Tuesday, January 04, 2011

to catch a thief [or not]

tonight clicking thru some blogs i read

this piece by scottish poet rob a. mackenzie

about having his things almost stolen in a supermarket

that reminds me of an incident last winter

leaving the office & walking down k st mall

a dilapidated dirt-mall that the city is always attempting

to kickstart into a place where you might actually want to go

anyway k st mall is a pedestrian outdoor venue that ends

at the convention center

it was there wating for the light to turn green so i could

cross the street & i'm among a crowd

when this dude sidles up to me real close

too close it felt like & gave off

this creepy vibe that i ignore

but then the light changed

about half a block down i thought i'd better check

my backpack

i always have my backpack with me

sure enough it's been zipped open

large enough for a hand to stick in

nothing is missing

for a moment i'm pissed

i knew it was that creep who tried to pull a pickpocket on me

fucker i thought next time i trust my instincts

& back away or turn to face him so he'd be not so bold

instead about a block later i begin thinking that if that dude

did manage to steal some of the contents of my backpack

he'd be sorely disappointed

a book of poetry?!

a moleskin with handwriting so bad it makes hannibal lecter seem sane?!

a cheap inkpen?!

a tupperware container with the scraps of a sandwich?!

dude couldn't sell that shit on the streets for more dope

now could he


At 8:37 AM, Blogger John B-R said...

Tonite I walked out of my red apartment door on East tenth street’s dusk—
Walked out of my home ten years, walked out in my honking neighborhood
Tonite at seven walked out past garbage cans chained to concrete anchors
Walked under black painted fire escapes, giant castiron plate covering a hole in ground
—Crossed the street, traffic lite red, thirteen bus roaring by liquor store,
past corner pharmacy iron grated, past Coca Cola & Mylai posters fading scraped on brick
Past Chinese Laundry wood door’d, & broken cement stoop steps For Rent hall painted green & purple Puerto Rican style
Along E. 10th’s glass splattered pavement, kid blacks & Spanish oiled hair adolescents’ crowded house fronts—
Ah, tonite I walked out on my block NY City under humid summer sky Halloween,
thinking what happened Timothy Leary joining brain police for a season?
thinking what’s all this Weathermen, secrecy & selfrighteousness beyond reason—F.B.I. plots?
Walked past a taxicab controlling the bottle strewn curb—
past young fellows with their umbrella handles & canes leaning against a ravaged Buick
—and as I looked at the crowd of kids on the stoop—a boy stepped up, put his arm around my neck
tenderly I thought for a moment, squeezed harder, his umbrella handle against my skull,
and his friends took my arm, a young brown companion tripped his foot ’gainst my ankle—
as I went down shouting Om Ah Hūm to gangs of lovers on the stoop watching
slowly appreciating, why this is a raid, these strangers mean strange business
with what—my pockets, bald head, broken-healed-bone leg, my softshoes, my heart—
Have they knives? Om Ah Hūm—Have they sharp metal wood to shove in eye ear ass? Om Ah Hūm
& slowly reclined on the pavement, struggling to keep my woolen bag of poetry address calendar & Leary-lawyer notes hung from my shoulder
dragged in my neat orlon shirt over the crossbar of a broken metal door
dragged slowly onto the fire-soiled floor an abandoned store, laundry candy counter 1929—
now a mess of papers & pillows & plastic car seat covers cracked cockroach-corpsed ground—
my wallet back pocket passed over the iron foot step guard
and fell out, stole by God Muggers’ lost fingers, Strange—
Couldn’t tell—snakeskin wallet actually plastic, 70 dollars my bank money for a week,
old broken wallet—and dreary plastic contents—Amex card & Manf. Hanover Trust Credit too—business card from Mr. Spears British Home Minister Drug Squad—my draft card—membership ACLU & Naropa Institute Instructor’s identification
Om Ah Hūm I continued chanting Om Ah Hūm
Putting my palm on the neck of an 18 year old boy fingering my back pocket crying “Where’s the money”
“Om Ah Hūm there isn’t any”
My card Chief Boo-Hoo Neo American Church New Jersey & Lower East Side
Om Ah Hūm —what not forgotten crowded wallet—Mobil Credit, Shell? old lovers addresses on cardboard pieces, booksellers calling cards—
—“Shut up or we’ll murder you”—“Om Ah Hūm take it easy”
Lying on the floor shall I shout more loud?—the metal door closed on blackness
one boy felt my broken healed ankle, looking for hundred dollar bills behind my stocking weren’t even there—a third boy untied my Seiko Hong Kong watch rough from right wrist leaving a clasp-prick skin tiny bruise
“Shut up and we’ll get out of here”—and so they left,
as I rose from the cardboard mattress thinking Om Ah Hūm didn’t stop em enough,
the tone of voice too loud—my shoulder bag with 10,000 dollars full of poetry left on the broken floor—

November 2, 1974

At 8:42 AM, Blogger John B-R said...

That's Ginsberg, of course ...

At 10:22 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

yeah, i know. mccrary wrote a funny story on a too-soon deleted blog about being mugged in mexico. the robbers took what he had including his papers. but when they saw the papers were poems threw them right back at mccrary.

another street-scene tonight. me and this other dude about to cross paths at a busy intersection. guy was in full on sweats and bandana tied around his head. he hit the middle of the intersection and heads toward and loudly hawks out a lugie. then as we are near enough to touch hawks another lugie, and i don't know if it was toward me or at me. but i turn toward him and he gives me this big fuck-you look. surely i must've been hallucinating that look. what the fuck would he have against me, a grey-haired 40-something on the way home from work. maybe it was a reaction from my facial expression which probably betrayed the look of disgust i get whenever anyone spits in public. but still, his look at me gave me the willies and makes me think that naw he was spitting at me even before i looked at him. but then again who knows. about a block later i was thinking of beckett and his good nature even after being stabbed in the chest by a stranger. and i regained my good mood.

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Vaguely Quotable said...

I really like the lines:
"a dilapidated dirt-mall that the city is always attempting

to kickstart into a place where you might actually want to go"
It perfectly captures how govts / councils treat cities like a machine.


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