Waiting to Be Hungry Again
She woke the family at 5:00 AM on Sundays with piano sonatas.
Dad said she was too full to dream.
The quack doctor on Broome Street prescribed adrenaline shots.
The disciples journeyed to convert the people at the far end of Earth,
the ones with ears as big as wings.
“Do my people hear notes differently?” she asks.
Her mother mumbles, “my people were shot on a sidewalk
full of cherry blossoms because your people didn’t know how to listen.”
If you believe that evil is out there,
then believe it in the middle of your bones,
the way your grandmothers did.
It’s the only way to keep
from vanishing among the perfect fools.
In the last judgement, the left hand of Jesus is silhouetted
like the exit signs at Heathrow.
When things grew hard, they sold the piano.
The couple next store were the first ones reported missing.
Before dinner, Dad would look around the table and say,
“if it wasn’t for the weight of the cross,
we’d fly right into heaven.”
She moved into a basement on Broome street.
The Doctor’s coat of arms was still drilled into the door.
She could think about the music all she wanted now.
She knew by then that music wasn’t the only secret
her universe would keep inside its handkerchief.
She taught her listeners that there was always something to steal.
When ghosts slowed down to wave, they would make plans to write audio dramas
about why it’s so easy to forget. They would laugh about which definition
of happiness would get nailed to the tree of sighs.
She has learned to fall in love with waiting,
with waiting for nothing to stop happening
with waiting to be hungry again.
She smirks as she imagines what her hands would be doing if
she had abandoned Broome street when the fires began.
She tries to think about the rain but her old enemies
keep making new space in her head.
Her eyes swim further out into the mirror every day.
Her mother said that death is a part of being beautiful the way the sun is a part of the sunrise.
“Let the hearse be pale green,” she prays,” let the doctor be wearing a clean pair of boots.”
Melodies still sneak up on her like the drunk monks of a forgotten faith.
Our people invented tears of paradise,
the harvest of empty seas,
an appetite for everywhere but here.
The resurrection is a place
where one note pushes out another,
until there are no pieces missing,
no beauty leftover
to drive the world mad.
New York at the Dawn of the Apocalypse
Doubts soak into the city’s
biceps like the flavors of a
death-row inmate’s final meal.
They begin life as alibis
and get-out-of-jail-free cards
but they grow to be
the new bookmarks of reality.
Great glass-boned avenues are
freed of bodies and their burdens
as if a careless god
had plunked a heel through
the cellophane that blankets the world.
This won’t be the first time this city
has sauteed its lips to keep a plague alive.
It won’t be the first time an urban sunset
has been paid for in carcasses.
You wanted to hear a story
but not one that goes like this:
when the restaurants stop
putting out garbage
the rats start eating
One New York is far
too ready to lend you
a gasping chainsaw.
Another scans its genie for
bloody urine stains,
chiseling a “this-is-how-we-live-now”
smirk onto its dreams.
Like a kid who can’t stop
kicking the seat in front of her,
the seams of Gotham’s sunset
keep spitting out the bodies
and you’re supposed
to ignore it all because
the flight will be over
in five and a half hours.
You couldn’t have
was going to feel
like being shot out of
a slow-motion cannon,
and no core.
Even a city without
eyelids can wallow in its blindness,
can tighten a rickety love song
its unquiet silence
has yet to choke down.
Jason Abbate lives and writes in New York City. His work has been included in publications such as Red Rock Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Black Heart Magazine, Subprimal, and pif Magazine. He is the author of Welcome to Xooxville.