Posted tagged ‘New Yorkers At The Velvet Garter–Somewhere West’

New Yorkers at The Velvet Garter, Somewhere West

October 19, 2013


New Yorkers at The Velvet Garter, Somewhere, West

I wanted you to love me on that trip
and felt you pretty much did
after that hour against the tiled
shower, when I was, for at least a while,
as important as your art, something that you might
mount upon a wall, and breathing glee together, we got back
in the car and drove, not at that moment consciously
further West, but to find some twilit entwine
of neon and of dance, even asking
the toll booth operator because no one else
seemed able to tell us–  Where’s the action?
she repeated, dazed bangs sounding out
conundrum, and we said, you know,
and after staring at the strip
of toll roof in case some early stars might just poke through
to point the way, some folks like
the Velvet Carter–
at least that’s what we thought
she said, naming an exit.

You yahooed, speeding off–so moist still with
each other, the windows gusting
rusting cobalt–and I wondered if we could keep this close
in the City with its whipped grey grids
that blocked you into your work, and me, sort of,
into mine,
then found a white-bulbed sign edged red, and everything
just shrunk.

Sure, the sky we parked beneath
was big, and yes, I felt your warmth
at my bare arms, but it was hard
to keep that smirking togetherness as the
hostess led us in, earnest lipstick tucking cherry
between puffed cheeks, and gloom
pressed down,  at least on me, with
the off-slant of the tablecloths, shabbiness
of stale smelled steak, the sateen reds making me almost

Only two other customers, a guy at the next table draped
over a couple
of chairs, skinny legs, boots, splayed, ruffled velveteen bands bunching
the joints of his jeans and sleeves–
a woman squeezed beside him, cleavage even
at the elbows, several bowled goblets encrusted
with gobbed salt and a few more velvet
bands made us realize as we looked down
at the plastiscene menu that what ringed his limbs were garters from
drinks drunk,
and that the name of the place had nothing at all to do
with wagons–

Loneliness fell like night–
hugely; the stub of cigarette
abandoning the guy’s bleared smile showed teeth
stranded at each side, his girl’s hair flat and split
as a bleached beach
under darkening tides, her eyes like the eyes of a collie sad
to be left outside, a collie with one eye black, one blue, though
hers were both just blue, blackened only
by mascara.

This is where people out here
have fun
? you whispered
shaking your head,
but I couldn’t laugh, and as we waded back through velveteen to
blacktop and looked again at the quavering sign, we noticed how
the grin of the G had blown dark (why it looked
a C)–and could not even hold hands.

We were still travelers together,
but any connection of flesh, man-
woman, felt like a worn-out game,
exuberance toothless, our wandering selves slick leeches
sprawling the parched–and I wished guiltily
to be back between my City’s lit grey walls, walls that
held throngs of people and paintings and shelves of words
writ whole, though I knew that was
unfair–the town poor and this bit
of the West beautiful, truly,
if the eye would only
stretch out over its vastness and the City
could be plenty lonely too
just like anyplace where there are couples.


This is very very much a draft poem, and very belated also, intended to somehow be “beat” for the prompt by Gay Reiser Cannon on dVerse Poets Pub —  It is much too long, and prosaic, and hard to follow., but I’m posting it because I’m not sure how else to re-write just now.   I am also posting for With Real Toads Open Link Night. 

PS – the red and white thing in the drawing is supposed to be a velvet garter, not a santa cap. 

Also – the poem is not autobiographical!  I was trying for the Jack Kerouackian.  

Finally– this has been edited since first posting, changing the last word from “people” to “couples.”