Roads Taken, Roads Imagined

March 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

I wasn’t born in New York, but I feel that New York is the city of my birth.  Everything important and life changing that ever happened to me feels like it happened here.  Even if I wasn’t here when it happened, I brought it back here where experience moved into result.  And there’s something about the iconographic imagery in this city (Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central Station, the Grand Concourse, the 59th Street Bridge) that I always respond to with a mixture of joy and sadness — for New York is both those things — 50/50.

I took this photograph (a view through the courtyard of the building that I live in), because it looks like — for someone who has never been here — proof of something about this city that is timeless.   It could have very well been taken 50 years ago.  Everything in it — the brick and the steel — is at least that old and it could have been taken the day I am starting the 11th grade at the High School of Music and Art on 135th Street, even though I live even more uptown now.  The view from my bedroom window in 11th grade looked a lot like this one and I remember it exactly the same way as far as this particular light is concerned — the sun beginning it’s fall towards dusk.

The city is always reminding the native of how it used to look and when something disappears — like the complex of businesses that went up in flames a month ago up on 207th Street — the lapse in the landscape takes longer to get used to than the new building that will probably go up to relieve it.  The new Apple store in Grand Central Station, didn’t really relieve anything (the space used to be occupied by a restaurant) and while the designers respected the exisiting space and basically just covered one end of the station with tables and technology, one feels as though the future has blasted a hole through one of the walls of the terminal with the reminder of our own life’s architecture:  technology, not a reverie of the past, is where we go now to disappear.

I Should Have Had Sex With Him

March 17, 2012 § 2 Comments


This is a picture of my dead brother’s best friend, Bruce and I’m not sure how I ended up with it, but I love it for a lot of reasons. It might even be the cover for my new book of poems which is called “The Talking Day”.  The photograph’s beauty is made with what you see and what I know.  For one thing, Bruce is, obviously, beautiful and he is doing something not so obviously beautiful (what are those rings made of?) — something that looks like a sorcerer’s trick, probably outside his home in Colorado where he had been living the day he walked down a path into a valley and his heart just stopped.  Bruce had a rare heart condition, and like so many rare  heart conditions, nobody knew — nobody I knew, anyway — exactly what it was, what it was doing to his body, how long it would mean he would live.  Still, I think Bruce knew he could go at any time, and if it was anywhere close to the time that this picture was taken, I would say that he lived a charmed life.  Like many charmed lives, it was very short, and in retrospect, necessarily emblematic.

Bruce died the same year my brother died — only a few months apart, actually, in 2002.  And even though Bruce was straight and my brother, Kevin, was for the most part, gay, they would probably each say that they were in love with each other.  Of course that love must have been — at least in part — fueled by the fact that both of them knew they would probably never have sex and I think that probably both of them lived in that incredibly charged erotic space that separates two people who want each other but won’t step out of the force field of their own making.  Even when one is willing (Kevin), the field is sealed by the one who isn’t (Bruce).  So I was surprised in Chicago, recently, when one of Bruce’s ex-girlfriends — also a good friend of Kevin’s — told me that Bruce told her once that he should have had sex with my brother.  Because he loved him.  Because it would have meant so much to Kevin.  And now they’re both dead sweethearts and only Bruce had the grief of Kevin’s death and only Kevin died without ever knowing that Bruce should have had sex with him.

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