Stumbling Through a Friday Night
Yesterday evening I left my apartment to make an evening journey through the city in order to attend a presentation by a Jungian analyst, Judith Slimmon. As I got off the last bus and began walking the remainder of the journey, my inattention resulted in my tripping over a thin edge of sidewalk cement which send my mobile phone flying along with my earphones. My hands came to the rescue of my face as I pitched head first towards the concrete. Picking myself up off the sidewalk, I knew I had hurt my left hand and accepted that as a lesson about the need to pay attention rather than get lost in a world of music while on a mission with a set destination. I gathered my few scattered possessions and continued on with the final part of my hike to the site of the presentation.
After the presentation, I returned, music set aside, tucked within my backpack, watching my step, focused on being present. I boarded the bus and took my seat and began to feel the pain in my hand. I laughed at my clumsiness for I am clumsy in so many things, always tripping and stumbling along whether it be on sidewalks or in relationships with others. I laughed at myself; “That’s what you get for having your head in some inner/outer space.”” I teased myself.
I left the bus to catch the C-Train on 7th Avenue. As I walked up the ramp towards the boarding platform, I focused on the reality of a Friday evening. This poem-story recalls the real drama that grew out of my waiting for the next C-Train that would take me back to my apartment. A final note, this is a true event that happened last night less that ten feet from where I was standing as I waited for the train.
“Two young women dressed for a summer night in late winter
Draw the eyes, as though in invitation
Laughing they walk to the train that now waits for them
Two young men, almost boys, are pulled into response
To an unspoken invitation, a sexual posturing
“You want me, you know you do,” crows one of the boy-men
The doors of the train close and the boy-man runs to the door
Where the two women stand though the seats of the train
Remain empty as if they know that standing behind the door
Will allow the street theatre to continue.
As the man-boy pounds on the train door and dances his invitation
Promising paradise via his manhood, another man is seen.
He is walking and appears to be talking on his hidden phone as the train pulls away
Dressed in a long black dress coat with black clothing beneath.
The two boy-men continue their antics, taunting passers by on the far sidewalk
“Hey you, you with the face!” they shout out, safe in their distance
The man in black is agitated and continues to walk along the walkway
Two others, a young man and his date sit on a step smoking a joint
Waiting for the lineup to Quincy’s on Seventh to shrink
The man in black’s face, stands in contrast to his clothing.
His face is white, too white, pale, blanched and anxious
A group of others, young men and women, emerge from a doorway
To stand huddled on the walkway, time out for a cigarette
Their voices take turns telling their private stories
A Friday evening of shared fantasies and posturing
Laughing, they dare the unknown within the safety of their huddle
The dark stranger is drawn to their laughter, their energy
He approaches and stands on the fringe as though to say “See me!”
Words are spoken by the group, non-inclusive words
Words that reinforce loneliness and separateness, unconnected
Eliciting the words, “Fuck you! Fuck all of you!”
He retreats walking backwards while still looking at the group.
More words of rejection fly out of the group, demeaning words
The words burn and the dark stranger re-approaches
His right hand in his pocket and his voice betraying his pain
His desperation that tightens his face and his gut.
As he stumbles closer to the huddle which now has grown
He screams out, “Pull it! Come on pull it!”
The tension mounts and it is as though all is stopped in time
Waiting for the next words, the next move.
A young man, a would-be hero, emerges from the pack
He is strong though shorter
But size is not an issue as he challenges the stranger in black
Again, that “Bring it here, bring it on” challenge is issued as he forces
The dark stranger into a stumbling retreat
Pressing him back and back, daring the dark stranger
A shot rings out as though from a starter’s pistol at
Some spring high school track meet
“He shot me!” exclaims the would-be hero
Who now retreats as the dark stranger disappears
“He shot me! Call 9-1-1!”
The next train arrives and as I leave
The sound of sirens fills the air
As I head out for the remainder of my journey
To a different story.