Creeping through the dark Manhattan streets,
I walk past near 200 native New Yorkers,
All of them look half-mad,
Or half of all of them
Look like they could be.
Are any of these people even real?
I ask my sanity.
They’re too outrageous.
They’re too unique.
Yet they’re all identical.
I’ve always hated cartoons.
I reach my destination
And teleport to the back of the line,
And wait an hour.
The girl in front of me loudly references,
One of Alicia’s naked parties.
“Oh, Alicia’s naked parties?”
Offended for my lack of invite,
I strike up a conversation.
She name drops her Ivy League school,
At least twice.
I pretend to have never heard of it
To make sure she hates me.
The girl behind me asks for a cigarette.
I ask for a dollar.
Because this is America
and I’m an Asshole goddammit.
She asks me my favorite poets,
I tell her Bukowski and Hoagland.
She looks at me like
I’m a sad baby giraffe
That isn’t going to make it.
But she’s sweet and has hope.
And that was also her name.
Anyone else? She begs.
I mention half a dozen rappers
And a white male slam poet.
I’ve been defrauded.
Whispers throughout the line.
“He said Bukowski?”
The doors open.
And like the mistakenly won
Teddy Bear in the claw machine
At the entrance of a Denny’s,
To the floor,
Front row center
Before the stage,
By my subconscious desire for attention,
Or the wisdom of those masses
Who are screaming for blood.
But oddly unoffensive,
Odor of hipster body odor,
Permeates the room.
Because deoderant causes cancer,
And is pretty mainstream too.
‘A waitress comes over to bring beer,
To those unfashionable enough to have
I order 3 and have nothing left.
The music starts.
And the blacks dance
With pride and bliss and self-assuredness.
The whites remain cautious and motionless,
Like awkward corpses,
Proud of their self-hatred.
And I hate them too.
I remain still. Until the emcee mentions Brooklyn,
And a Biggie song comes on.
One of my aforementioned favorite poets.
I rap along unashamed to know all of the words.
But I’m careful not to say ‘the n-word’ when he does.
The poetry starts.
Talks of slums,
Brothers in jail,
and cops being dicks.
Not bad topics,
If it wasn’t for the shame.
Some take pride in moral decay.
And then more pandering to white guilt,
The white crowd applauds
Or snaps their fingers
(BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO)
Out of rhythm.
I can’t connect,
I have no guilt.
Is it because I’m not a racist,
I’m at peace with my inner racism,
Or because I’m a privileged white, heterosexual, male who lacks
A full and complete sense of empathy?
The next one goes up.
I forget all the good parts,
But I remember him ending with,
“And every woman,
Should be treated,
Like the Queen she truly,
The women in the crowd,
And the men with women in the crowd,
Explode with approval.
But I’ve met a few peasants,
And a few Queens who hated
To be treated as such.
I sip my beer more quickly now,
As a means to voice my disagreement.
Another poet feeling sorry for himself.
“I went to two funerals last week.”
I was the best man at 3 in 2013.
And I take his personal sadness
As an affront against mine.
I sip quicker.
Then two poets with rants against capitalism,
And love for a black liberal father.
You know, “We’ve never truly had a
Free market. Maybe you should read
Rothbard, Hoppe, Mises, Bastiat, or
One of the Friedmans.” I whispered to my beer.
But the last poet was good.
And I knew afterwords,
I’d have to leave.
He was the most offensive.
He went after my pride.
He showed me I’m not there yet.
He went after my truth.
He showed me there was value in this room
And maybe I did belong.
He went after my masculinity.
Because he was a she.
And I loved her.
Slender young dark
With an Afro like a Lion’s mane.
Or is that racist, or a cliché?
But I meant it.
And she called out all of the fakes as phonies,
But she called out Holden and me too.
I applauded louder than all of them,
And then I stood up,
And ran away slowly.
Careful to throw out my notebook
Along the way.