Sunday, April 19, 2009

19 West 68th Street

to a room with round
windows facing the street
I / being twenty
living in a six-floor
coral stone
a gate guarded the last flight of stairs
to the room James Dean
lived / still left
a wooden chaise / a few cheap
books and a built-in
an illegal crib / no heat
rose that high / no hot
water could travel that far
outside the room was the stove
a blue / four burner
gas with no oven
an iron door
next to the bathroom
led to the roof
shared by the building
next door / you
could barbeque out there
a photographer from that building
took pictures of Belafonte
and Poitier / with the city
as a backdrop
I bathed over there
left the roof door open
visited Marvin / my friend
a writer / he traded room'
for typing
Jon cards for Penelope
an Israeli prostitute / dead
he died / too much
Dr. Feelgood
Lillie / the dregs
a deaf poor soul
always stood on the front
stoop / waiting
for her transvestite son
to get out of jail
a bathtub sat on the floor
a board covered it
a shrine/ with plastic icons
her son Pat come home
with the cops chasing him
she’d throw him
into the tub cover it and run
down the street
with the heat
on her / throaty sounds / still
my soul
P.T Barnum's governess / Mrs. Keeslestone
lived on the fourth floor
she was 100/ visiting her
was always spooky/ everything
in the apartment was covered
with white sheets/ so afraid of dust
she never went out/ she waited
to die / she told great stories
about Dean/ how quiet he was
how gentle he spoke
Amidst the cellar rats
in a box I found three Harlow
gowns/ later I cut them
up/ made braid rugs/ velvet
'n satin/ black'n white
to sell on South Street
East River Docks / where
the dead pigeons lay
Mike / a famous midget
lived across the street
next to Kazan/ the peephole
on his door is crotch-high
out of Burger King
I roped junkies
took them home/ picked
their brains/ hid their dope
just to know
I came home
walked up the six
flights /gate broken
room door open/ wig
underwear / record player
missing / Lativioes gone
I heard rustling in the bath-
room / I flung open the roof
door / let them out / like
they did my birds / without
ever seeing them
Dean's gentle spirit
kept me during those
years / everyone wanted me
out / yet there I felt
safe / my own vision
peering out the same porthole
onto the same street
it was my space now
I guarded it / not for Dean
not for me / but for a disposition
that rests there / an ancient
secret / a director
without a script
looking for actors
who possess the key
and are ready
for flight.


  1. Is this apartment for rent? jk!
    Sounds like a great place/ GREAT HEAD SPACE/ Great POEM/ Wonderful story!

  2. Go see it /ring the bell /contact the owner contact america hidalgo /she is the biggest landlord on the block / she'll remember me /go to her apartment with birds flying around /notice the dolls on her shelf /I gave them to her as a peace offering /I shoulda kicked her ass-you /this apartment is 19West 68th Street