Four Poems by Puma Perl

WHY IT’S BETTER TO BE DEAD

 

Because I already have my funeral set list planned and finally everyone will treat with respect my decision to include Red Hot Chili Peppers Soul to Squeeze with a segue into Under the Bridge as well as Bone Thugs n Harmony even though Crossroads is admittedly an obvious choice. It will be the only chance I’ll ever have to tell a DJ what to do.

Because better bands will play at the memorial than I usually hear and my musician friends will take the jam to new creative heights and one of them will finally write some music for my lyrics.

Because there will be a tremendous turn-out, including all of those people who never found time to go to a show when I was alive, and I might even sell some books, the profits of which will be designated to a pit bull rescue organization.

Because I can wear black leather no matter the weather and someone will do a fabulous job with my hair and I’ll finally get someone to do my make-up, maybe even Miss Guy unless Deborah Harry dies that day in which case I’ll be dead for nothing.

Because I can eat whatever I want and that thought is so delicious it really doesn’t matter that I probably won’t be eating.

Because when you are dead there are no moral issues and your plot is paid for outright, no rent or mortgage, and all your questions are answered, and my name will be correctly spelled on my tombstone, although some money may have to change hands so I can still lie about my age.

Because that’s when you matter. That’s when everybody loves you and reads your work and realizes you were a genius and the ones who cry the hardest are the biggest liars and because all the things you lied about when you said it really weren’t important really aren’t.

That’s why it’s better to be dead.

____________

 

Do I Do It for You?

 

I helped a woman across Second Avenue
and then I immediately checked for my wallet
In New York City our hearts are big
but our paranoia is even bigger

After she left, I looked back
at those 10th Street rooftops
Felt our hair blowing in the wind

and remembered climbing
those tenement steps
built for our Russian ancestors
too narrow for your Converse feet

I still see you, your red flannel shirt
glittering in the lower east side sun
and ask myself, Do I do it for you?

or was it same way
I helped that lady cross the street?
One hand on her arm,
the other on my wallet
Or do I still do it,
Do I do it for you?

 ____________

 

August 31, 2019

 

Labor Day weekend,
alone in the car,
inspired
by your poems

Lately,
I don’t write much
Don’t drive much,
either

Once,
you could park
anywhere
on long
New York City
holiday weekends

Today,
I drove in
circles
Eventually,
I caved and paid
a meter,
insulting to a native

No matter what,
I’d never use
a parking garage
I still have
some dignity

After I parked,
I walked several
blocks,
gazing at all
the empty spaces
that could have
been mine

Thinking
of the love
and money
that could have
been mine

I picked up
my posters,
drank iced coffee,
bought chicken
I’d heard talk
of caramel salt cookies
but couldn’t find them

Instead,
I ate a stale
pretzel croissant
under an umbrella
on Astor Place,
watching people walk
and move their lips

Tomorrow,
I’ll visit a friend
in Brooklyn
and obsess
about driving
and parking

Every summer
I bang up my bumper
My mechanic
says, don’t worry,
it’s still the best car
you ever had
and fixes it
again

On this Saturday,
I contemplate
the waves
I missed,
the outdoor concerts
I skipped
this summer

Heat
and lethargy
lingered,
invading dreams
of clouds
and leather

Another birthday
approaches,
dressed in black
I met a bright
young girl today
Her dress
danced around her
“I wear colors
when I feel down,
she told me

It made sense
but not to me
in my black
zippered shirt
with the words
“Love” and “Hate”
over each breast
My boots were red,
but not cheerful

September
comes in
at midnight
School years
and Virgos
Jewish holidays
arrive late
this year
But my birthday,
like my death day,
will be right
on time.

____________

 

Strawberry Moon Rising

It’s no ordinary moon
Strawberry moon
is golden orange
close to the horizon
A honeymoon
A time to collect berries
Wear saris
Wrap threads seven times
around the banyan tree

The morning after the moon
I’m dreaming of the night before
I move around my apartment
in the lingering scent, the quiet
of the night before
A few moments of peace
before the tumult

Strawberry moon
brings shift of purpose
and energy
I start to clean
Change a lightbulb
It shatters
Sweep up shards
knock over vintage bottle
Cap breaks, sweep up glass

Set my eyes on Now
Prepare to go out
My bracelet explodes
on my wrist
Sweep up beads
Reach for the make-up
brushes
Cup handle breaks
Sweep up china

I don’t blame the moon
or anyone else
Not even the dog
Nightfall brings safety
The days are hard,
walking through
sunny streets,
exposed
to summer’s elements

24 hours later,
the Strawberry Moon
begins to wane
along with the illusion
of peace
Chaos is rising, a warning
to keep the broom handy
Turmoil is harder to sweep up
than broken lightbulbs
and china cups.

One Response to “Four Poems by Puma Perl”

  1. Pris Campbell Says:

    Puma, you are my sunshine….you make me happy to read your poems. These are great. The funeral, the wallet….yes!

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