a castle in the clouds

after a hard day’s
night spent adventuring
with friends, I debate
my next steps. should
I return to my castle
in the clouds, where
my cats and my solitude,
my leftovers and my air-conditioning,
my big bag of m&m’s,
and my familiar demon
sadness await? or
should I go to that basement
in the village where
a good number
of my friends are
probably still performing
at one of the mics?

I only just woke up
shortly before sunset,
so in theory I’m
rested. but I feel
as wrung-out as a
wet cloth, limp and
lifeless and lacking.
hag-ridden and haunted and hollow
am I.

the train gods are definitely
not in my favor, I must
enter the great castle-like entrance
to the 135th street uptown train
and go to 145th street –
even though I’m ultimately
trying to get downtown,
no matter how
you slice it.

the hour ticks
inexorably on. the mic
is probably ending and
my friends are asking
each other if they
want to have beers
after. by the time
I get there, it’ll
all be over. the train gods
taunt me with an express
train being announced first,
one stop away, but right after
it is a local, two stops away.
my stop is local only.
for the mic I would
change at West 4th St,
so it’s immaterial.

I sit on the bench
and fan myself. then I sit
and sweat. the express train comes
and I experience heaven
for a moment in its refrigerator-like
coolness but the part
of me that wants to go home
forces me to step out
back in to the baking, moist heat
of the platform. I curse myself
when the next train doesn’t come
immediately. did I mishear
the announcement? I see
the sign that I read when I
sat down here. it says “Reminder: C trains do not run
overnight.” that’s correct,
but the A usually switches
to local after midnight.
just then
the announcer says
a Brooklyn-bound
local train is one
station away. the same lying
announcement as before.

the longer I wait, the more
foregone the conclusion,
the one I secretly longed for
anyway – that I’m going home.

doing nothing
is a choice, too.
if you wait long enough,
your problems solve themselves.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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