#B I. Cartography: Being honest with anyone but myself, I’ve never lived anywhere long enough to say, “I grew up here.” In some or another box after a recent move, there is list of all the places I’ve passed through, more than sixty in less than thirty years. And yet. I grew up in New York City; the Bronx, City Island, Arthur Avenue, the Zoo. All tenements from the 70’s, all bodegas, all elevated highways. Parkways curving tightly against the East River. Bodies of water. Body of mine. My mother’s house and also my father’s house. Those apartments. Crossing the Bronx on the Cross-Bronx Expressway from one side of my childhood to the other.
#B II. Government: Local heroes. Champions of running to catch a train. King and Queens ruling over late-night drives, $1 pizza slices, and crowded basement shows. The law of the land was Never Get Tired and never we did. Swallowing the sun nightly, we burned across boroughs, through Burroughs, through Ginsberg, what thoughts we had those nights. All many-armed gods and goddesses of our own destruction, all deities and devils, all mouths taking in the blueness of our mistakes, desperately avoiding the days we fell like Rome. The city rebuilt every time the rainwater steamed off the asphalt. We were covered in the sweat of better men than ourselves, preaching into microphones from backlit stages, bodies blurring in the heat and the hurt.
#B III. Genesis: You don't yet have the language at the age of seven to know why you always look down the blouses of your teachers. I wrote in my margin, “she smells like honeysuckle.” Or what I imagined something described as taking in honey by the mouth ought to smell like. My father would feverishly change the channel on our TV if even the slightest of homosexuality came on screen. Before I knew why, I knew he was wrong. Fifteen years old and tucked into an alley behind the coffee-shop-as-second-home that fed me body and soul, not clumsily striking matches or raising bottles to lip but rather wrapping my best friend’s/girl friend’s body in the night to hide her from our fathers. When the last sentence he spoke to me at 25 was I'd been disappointing him my entire life, I didn't have to wonder why my degrees and my health weren't enough for him.
#B IV. Cardiology: I am going to climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfry of Bruges and I am going jump and I am going to keep my eyes open until I am going to crashing come to the ground I am going to swallow my tongue every time you enter a room And every time I think about you entering a room And every time I think about you And I am going to make you mouth words like ‘electricity” and “asystole” to learn the way your tongue pushes on your teeth And I am going to get two inches from your lips and make you mouth them again And I am going to dig my pointer and middle fingers into the space where my collarbones don’t meet to find a steadying pulse And I am going to think of every time I have done this before And I am going to think of every time I will do it again And I am going to fill a notebook each time And I am going to leave clawmarks And I am going to read the spaces between your planets And I am going to bruise And I am going to burn And I am going to spend each next year trying to understand what lesson in school I was too sick to attend that I am so Much and so Exhausting and so unable to Temper And I am going to be this way forever.
#B V Deficiency: We never have enough of what we need, or do we. The body lacks, though hard it tries. I believe in souls. I'm sorry if you don't. What I do for my soul is at the expense of my body. What I do for my body should be more correlated to what my body does for me but it never seems to be able to do more than contain my blood. Or maybe that's all it's for. Every time I visit a doctor they tell me a new piece that I am missing. Enzyme. Lipid. Enamel. Vitamin. Molecule. They tell me where to find it. How to bring it to my body. My body always wants more and my soul wants to leave. To be sea mist. To be pine smoke. To be away from the blood and the sinew and the lacking. I take in coffee and lentil and sugar by the mouth finding a way to nourish all of me. I need more sun inside my skin. I need more water to submerge myself in. I need more nights spent couch sat pulling stories from the air between us. But while the soul expands the body loses mass and my mind is caught unable to feed the air to my mouth fast enough, “don't go.”
#B VI. Collapse: Baroreceptors are sensory neurons that are excited by the stretch of a blood vessel. In their excitement, they sense blood pressure and relay the information to the brain, so that proper pressure can be maintained. Increases in the pressure of a blood vessel triggers increased action potential generation rates and provides information to the central nervous system. Autonomic reflexes ought to work left to their own doing, a bodily process separate from pathos. And yet. The betrayal by physiology after an undoing conversation, something left unsaid, a silence, a look, a loss, leaves the body to fend for itself, leaves action potential generation behind. I cave as bridge, as building, as roof; in on myself and all at once. My central nervous system fails to communicate to my brain and my heart that we indeed must carry on. So, I falter. I apart. I lose conscious- and unconsciousness and my blood settles, and once again I am skin being held up by bathroom tile as the quiet rolls in.
#B VII. Catharsis: There are evenings I find myself writing out the words to “Billion Bees” in the margins of books I’ve read before. I move the bookshelves around the apartment until, from my side of the couch, I can see them all. What’s most important is that the window be open just enough the sun smell of the gingko leaves keeps my company, and the rising early evening Moon casts their shadow over my shoulder. There are evenings I take off the day layer by layer, a trail on the floor from door to bed, arms and legs akimbo into inches of feather and cloth. The ocean sounds of deep inhaling, a meditation on sea mist, salt rock, and pine. There are evenings I slice garlic cloves and melt them in olive oil, cutting board to pan, wooden spoon to rest, fingertip to mouth. Cracked spine of basil leaf, cracked window revealing fifth floor ledge. There are evenings my head floats heavy with smoke and I have been told it is an experience to watch the way I eat a piece of fruit. There are some evenings I spend slunk-shoulders in a bath releasing the the effects of tragedy on the mind. There are some evenings I choose not to exist at all.
#B VIII. Elation:
#B IX. Outcrop: I want to return your book.
#B X. Balance: I often say, “this needs lavendar.”