We pedaled across the rooftops,
Jangling twin boys in a grey city
which was always falling off a ledge.
We crept the backstairs,
as the Chinese restaurant cooked clam chowder
and watched the old men float across the basement pool,
enchanting sirens in green water,
combovers trailing behind them like peacock tails.
These were the men.
My father sang foghorns in the steam room
While my brother squeaked seagull,
And I wasn’t even sore from an hour pong-powwing racquetballs
across the cobwebbed lead paint floor,
balanced above the top knob of the elevator,
above the service stairs,
past the hunched grey master of
clanking fuses, of rats, of mysteries.
We knew the colored lights shimmered all year round
on sexy Broadway,
not just for Christmas.
They were a sparkling Advent calendar even in April,
dancing on Tuesdays until a mechanical piano rose from the floor
and crushed an amorous john and dancer into the ceiling.
The dancer spent a long night with his jelly turning cold against her,
and insurance was never paid.
These were the men,
the Press Club men,
walruses in green leather with pool cue tusks,
drinking grapefruit juice from tin cans
the size of their hairy pinky fingers.
Did they have wives, sisters, mothers?
These jelly shakers, these rough-hewn cherry men,
gathering with stained legs to reminisce to the sound of Muni buses
crackling across the sky
and into the alleys
into the massage parlors,
into the falling-over brick maze where
even my mother had her eyelashes dyed black?
So women also hid in the bricks,
looking for new men,
and I can climb the revolving door of the Embarcadero fountain,
to be the sea and know men and women and neither.
These were the men, fishing on the pier,
fishing for a boy that couldn’t have been theirs,
rattling for life behind rat-a-tat windows,
rattling and squishing in podiatrist’s loafers
outside Jonee’s Cocktail lounge on Turk,
stumbling past the Vietnamese orphans,
past the piss and laughter,
past a red belly pressing onto the sidewalk,
past their limbless sons,
hiding in beige trenchcoats,
hiding alongside the ghosts.
About the Creator
Filmmaker, writer, drummer. Guinness World Record holder for air-drumming.
Poems published in Tablet Magazine: arigoldfilms.com/poems
Watch my movies on Amazon or at AriGoldFilms.com.
Follow on IG, Twitter: @AriGold
Drum podcast: HotSticks.fm
"rattling for life behind rat-a-tat windows, rattling and squishing in podiatrist’s loafers" I enjoyed this read and I love these lines & the rhyme :)