I've got a fake i.d. from Nevada and no name
I’m walking uptown to the ritz bar and lounge,
a strange fog drapes over the buildings
like fuzzy orange curtains.
dead phone and no dance moves,
terrified of inhaling a cobweb.
left K on 23rd street, half the city away.
she was parading me around
like an accessory: a wristwatch, a purse, a pet.
in the bathroom, dirty floor,
shoes, shoes scuffing screeching,
get pushed against the wall,
a group crowds in the stall together.
confront myself in the mirror.
tiny glass bottles clink to the floor,
then a credit card.
had to pull away, walk fast up the slant of broadway.
wander outside, post up by the smokers,
they’ve all got stories about fire island, life cycle, and pride,
I’ve got a fake i.d. from nevada and no name.
at the bar upstairs by the gogo dancers in glittering speedos,
it feels like I’ve got a piece of fiberglass in my eye.
threading my way to one of the dance floors,
thorns stabbing around in my chest,
in the hallway someone touches the small of my back,
lean against the wall, and look up,
I can see stars.
there’s no one here for me.
pills to wake up and pills to sleep,
blur the hard edge of oblivion.
fade into the same color as the wall.
saw myself once—a reflection on the east river.
how can a god watch over me if I have no name?
what will I say if someone approaches?
order a gin and tonic as a sorry tribute to my dad,
a hole in the heel of my sock, I’ve got a blister.
miss staring at the off-white wall.
supposed to be surrounded by my people here.
something is always burning.
don’t know what hunger feels like anymore.
they’re running out of names for hurricanes.
last week, I got lost in the bronx.
the man at the corner store said I looked like the morning after,
he told me the bus down the block would take me
to the train, but you’ve got a long way till queens.
is this what it all means,
a train rattling into—nevermind.
can almost hear the call of a bird
in that three-note-screech
when the subway car is pulling into the station.
sitting on this stupid stool at the bar,
head resting on my knees,
it’s such a long way to queens.
spinning away, turning out,
I’m in the back garden running from the wasps,
still don’t know why I sprayed their nest with the hose.
eyes closed, thump of music almost too much, clink of ice,
voices clashing, meshing.
I’m slipping and drifting through cracks, corners,
puddling, misting, like water,
catch light—light catches me.
he’s pulling me to my feet,
he’s saying something I can't hear.
I’m pulling away, he pulls me closer,
says in my ear, just go with it.
music, voices dull into a hum,
my pulse the new beat,
our fingers thread together, eyes meet,
skin against skin, warmth. I exist.
Standing in the antechamber.
I’m on the phone with my mother.
I’ll describe the room to you:
mostly dark & no floor--
& door & some windows,
but they are opaque.
Some light—indescribable color.
Gray. Orange. Bruise-purple. Gray.
Floating. Quite unpleasantly.
She’s prattling on about the neighbors,
they just got a new boat & their dog
keeps bothering her chickens,
& someone she works with keeps
microwaving fish in the break room.
Heartbeat extra violent.
& even the cherry blossoms on the trees
that yesterday were bare, are no comfort.
Can’t stay here.
I have to tell you something.
Airplanes passing forever.
Blame the wind for eating
& then I say it.
The windows, the door,
What did she say?
Now I can’t remember.
Because I was falling.
I was falling, she was talking,
she was catching me with her words.
Someone can see me.
& I decide to walk the whole
way home & not take the bus.
Shop windows. Telephone pole.
Dead grass. White-gray sky.
Laundromat. Machines spinning.
Max Stone is a second-year poetry candidate in the MFA program at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is also a book artist. His writing is often about his experiences living in New York City, queer identity, and mental illness.