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BERNADETTE, 3:FiVETEEN

This is a revised poem (first published in 2007); updated, now I offer it to you here. It’s a reminiscence, a nostalgic trip about a girl I had a crush on as a child in NYC.

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Bernadette, 3:Fiveteen

Brooklyn. Princess of Vanderbilt Street. My first crush—Bernadette.  Stickball was secondary, to have you notice me was everything.  Your lips on my cheek was on my every Tooth fairy & Christmas wish list, and a game of “taG” was hopeless—I’d be your willing victim every time.  Summers in 80’s Park Slope were all about our romance… in my dreams I suppose. “Hi. What time is it?” and I reply “uhmm its 3:fiveteen.”

Damn!  Why couldn’t I’ve just said fifteen; I guess the crush was too much for my virgin heart.

I imagine your married by now; to some young professional from a Greek family, upper Long Island Class, Mercedes Benzing to the city, gym memberships with his & hers iPods, no kids yet—soon you’ll figure out its never the perfect time to have one.

Me? Shit… you don’t remember me.

My life hasn’t been much of upper class anything—I’ve been to West Nowhere and back; to North No-life and froze; to East DuckforCover-Land becoming acquainted with the local bullets as they waved hello zipping past me thinking they knew my name; and I made friends with a landmine in South NotanOfficialMission-Ville… I would’ve stayed in touch with him, but his “hellos” are too intense… and his hugs would take your breath away.

I have a few souvenirs—I take them everywhere I go, and one or two I only see at night… but then they disappear.  So here I am, journeyed through the world, now back in Brooklyn—back from Hell and still skatin’ on poetic Chaos, just the way I like it, with bliss in mind— ravenous for universal mathematics and getting spiritually “Paid in Full” like Rakim proffesin’ on his master plans- I like to think I do the same, drop gems, except I dig into God’s coat pocket for ‘em— stealing knowledge we may not be ready for is my favorite dish. And maybe soon you’ll simply love fixin’ your children’s favorite meals, but I’m sure there’s universal wisdom in that too.

I own this paper, this ink, had a dented truck I sold in North Carolina so I could troop it back towards Prospect Park. I own a real-live genuine for-sure-I’m-Smart four year University degree, and above all, the superpowers of my soul have been unchained despite God’s protests that I stop revealing his ever-splintering secrets—I only laugh now, knowing he has no command over the artistic mission.

If you only knew “The Lo” today; sure I had to swim in what felt and tasted like searing absinthe, but I smile now, and revel in the fact that you might be reading this letter letter, word word, comma dot dot dot…

It’s midnight now and I’m just thinking of you, of your long hair, of pink shorts, cherry-flavored Italian Ice in hand and smiling with your one question.   Sitting in my beautifully melancholic moment, in sunny Brooklyn ’86, the day you saw I had a brand new Casio watch on, and I in nervous, clumsy gosh-I-Love-you-haste… said…

the time was 3:fiveteeN.

Magicas Lapides, yO!

A Brownstone is where I want to be; thoughts of owning this symbol, this building of who I am or who I wish I was; the basic elements of ‘me’ comprised of wood & stone; a tiny backyard with cement floor, a few scattered potted plants, two fold-out chairs and a small bohemian-mangled table saved from the ill-fated grips of the sanitation men. 

I guess it’s a New York thing.  My heart is always there, dug into the foundation, into the dirt and drive of city life; it’s a happiness that comes from being a victorious Brooklynite – that comes from knowing gum-stuck sidewalk corruption cannot run one down. That the F-Train’s steel wheel or graffiti scars hasn’t got enough aggression to run me out of town. Life’s beatings have made me resolute- One day I’ll be on Late Nite with Jimmy Fallon, and i’ll eat a crunchy Brownstone for breakfast! 

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I am now…

Of the very fabric, of the tree & lamppost-lined streets and of the danger-prone metallic monkey-bar playgrounds — tattooing the face of this page with my feet dug into the gardens of a concrete paradise. I smile in pain proudly, cursing the “well-off’s” taunting bourgeois homes.

In this city the concrete rises, like we the oppressed, planning on the conquer, who stand breathless at the base of monoliths.  Skyscraping in thought, I was born four floors above the norm and I will not come down; I’d rather climb up the fire-escape, stand on the rooftop, spitting like an addict of pure verse while the moon illuminates the rained-on streets with a raw & gritty romance.

Dear Brooklyn, although you largely offered me no comfort, let me fall into your peaceful sometimes warring arms—

I’ve been ready since before I could bleed— I am of this place, deployed without question – the ink is my weapon

… dripping my soul into words.

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