Apartment Near the BQE (After Edward Hopper)

Light coffee, mostly cream
Sun slanting through the screen
I fell asleep again
Just after you had left

The dust came wafting in
Soft galaxies of grit
Which warmed themselves in sun
And sank into my lungs

The sheets were warm like skin
Like sunshine in a dream
Like sirens and their call
The constant hum of cars


I dream of old friends
like others dream of women they once loved:
on a beach in the moonlight, but no one
says anything about how strange it is.

Except we’re all a
bit older; one guy’s bald; another got
fat; even in dreams our lives have gone on,
our bodies fail, our memories lapse.

But we’re all single
again; no one has careers or degrees;
just like the old days, when all we did was
drink, and we thought we could stay drunk forever.

And all debts have been
repaid; all grudges settled; no one’s moved
away, no one has other friends; no one’s
addicted or sick, none will ever be lost.

And elsewhere the dead
are walking; somewhere graves have opened; but
on the beach time has frozen, all is still,
and we don’t even know it’s just a dream.


The last time I saw her
it was two thousand and
eight, in a basement with
a dozen other kids,
and her new boyfriend was
there, so we didn’t talk.

But you don’t understand:
it was a different world
back then, and we dressed and
talked differently, though when
I try to tell kids how
I can’t explain it right.

Like matter was in a
more simple state, and things
flowed freely from the world
to us and back again,
a process which left bruised
our raw and growing souls.

And that was why the world
still seemed new to us, and
why we thought we could make
a new way of art or
life, though of course we failed
whenever we tried it.

And you have no idea
how much we failed: we were
born for it, reveled in
it, we displayed a knack
found nowhere else in our
lives at home or at work.

But that was how we liked
it, damn it, and I’d do
it all again if I
had to, all my mistakes
and heartaches, all the days
I wasted or slept through.

All the days I spent in
the springtime wandering
the city by myself,
just buying records and
enjoying being a
drain on society.

All the days I sat at
the kitchen table with
a pen and paper and
not an idea in my
head, waiting to see if
a novel would come out.

All the days killing time
at dead end jobs without
a thought about the years
to come, assuming things
would work out by themselves,
which in the end they did.

All the nights I thought that
if I just drank enough
I could talk to girls or
make other friends or could
experience life in
the city as I should.

Of course it never worked
out like that; of course not;
that’s what I’m trying to
say, it was a mess, but
that doesn’t stop me from
reflecting fondly back.

We haven’t talked about
those years yet, as if the
nostalgia has not set
in, or no one cares but
me, so I have to care
enough for everyone.

Unless it really was
the end of history,
and we have not looked back
because there’s nothing to
look back upon but a
blank space of unmarked time.

And if we were a bit
dramatic it’s because
we could tell something was
wrong, and we wanted to
catch the last of the world
before it was erased.

I don’t intend to make
apologies for me
or anyone else who
was there; I just want to
communicate a sense
of how we lived back then.

At basement shows where I
lost half my hearing and
house parties where I fried
half my brain, on the streets
which glowed electrically
in the night’s empty hours.

Forgetting, for now, how
fucked up we were, how hurt
we must have been, how much
we had to numb ourselves,
how many people we
stepped on for our good times.

And the times weren’t good
half the time, but I guess
that wasn’t the point; the
point is that you survive
and keep alive the things
the years have left in you.

So that’s the story of
the last time I saw her,
though nothing happened and
she didn’t see me, when
I was alone on that
night in two thousand eight.