Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another New Year

Everyone on the lower east side used to think that Lauren and I were sisters. It was less of a physical resemblance than a similarity in attitude. Before we met, people were constantly coming up to me thinking I was her and vice versa - the first time we encountered one another we were dressed identically in Kristina Gorby velvet - mine was blue, hers was red. We both had wild black hair and were of similar height and wore wire rimmed glasses. She went to California for a while and I hitchhiked around the east coast. One day, clad in my hitching gear - striped overalls and a 10 inch knife in a leather sheath on my hip - someone showed me a photo of her taken in Berkeley in which she wore - striped overalls and a knife on her hip. Please forgive the mention of the striped overalls, I have no idea what we were thinking.

Lauren came back to NYC, winding up on the lower east side, and we wandered the streets in our finery - spaghetti strap slip nightgowns we bought in Mays Department Store on 14th street, back when Union Square was about placydels and tuinals; anthere was also a very active stroll on 3rd Avenue. The model on the cover of my book, knuckle tattoos, wears a similar nightgown, one of mine, bought more recently; I wish they were as cheap and easy to find as they were back then.

This poem is about our travels through the neighborhood on a New Year's Eve sometime in the late 70's. It's not the best poem I ever wrote, but every word is true.

It was another New Year.
Oh no, not this one and not
the year before -
no, not any of those.

I lived in a different body,
for I am blessed like an alley cat,
sides forever swollen with newness

Ice covered tenement steps,
skirts flared beneath
tiny fake leather jackets
After midnight we wandered,
welcome and uninvited

We were young
Doors swung open
for a smile

At two AM
we found a music hall
dark, half empty
Tina Turner sang Proud Mary
There were no Ikettes

We drank dark rum
smoke in our hair
danced our way
into bars and clubs
through happy streets

It was a new year
before the darkness

Everything was free.

© puma perl, 12/30/08

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