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sunday afternoon

August 3, 2012

“Sunday Afternoon”

On an unexpected adventure,
I look around at the cast of characters that surround me:
friends, acquaintances, college students, artists,
mothers, fathers, children,
a guy who looks like a sailor, and not in a good way…
I wonder about their lives,
about the choices they’ve made and whether they’re happy with who they are;
where they are;
and who they happen to be there with.

A coffee in my hand,
comforting me and shaking me out of my waking slumber.
Tony’s niece doesn’t remember meeting me.
I contemplate how many times that’s happened,
how many people have failed to recognize me,
even though I always seem to remember them.
Am I really that forgettable?
Perhaps.
But restlessness leads us on to another adventure,
and a walk along a river of memories.

The city is full of contradictions.
A new path along the river paralleled by abandoned factories;
emergency phones meters apart,
while the rest of the city has long forsaken 911,
because they know from experience that no one ever comes.
One coney island we suspect is run by racists,
the other has a dungeon for a bathroom,
yet all three of us find the latter infinitely more inviting.
Miley Cyrus stares down at me from the wall,
most likely judging me as I inhale my ketchup-covered coneys.

Yes, I put ketchup on my coney dogs.
And so does Tony,
both of us growing up in the heart of downtown.
I guess it’s a thing,
not putting ketchup on coney dogs.
I’m sure all the trendy hipsters would disapprove.
And I chuckle inwardly at the ridiculousness of it all.
Did Miley Cyrus really eat here?

The taste of onions accompanies thoughts about friendship,
about what that word really means.
Who are these people I’m with?
Why did I pick them over what I was originally planning on doing?
I conclude it means the people I consider my family,
the people who I trust and would sacrifice anything for,
even my time,
which has become very precious to me as of late.
It explains why I consider so few people my friends:
I’ve only got so much to give.

And as quickly and unexpectedly as it began,
I find myself being rushed back home,
and to my evening shift at the cafe,
empty and waiting for the motely assortment of poets and musicians to arrive.
A new adventure,
and something else to take my mind off the melancholy this city provokes,
as I watch it struggle to rise from the ashes,
like some gritty, urban phoenix.

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