I AM AN APARTMENT BUILDING

i am an apartment building
way too new to look so old
the grass in my front yard
grows ancient and unkempt
it is manic vicious refuses to be cut
it climbs my stoop
where angry looking children
play dice games and punch each other
as hard as they can

my front door is red
you can see it from down the street
it sings like it wants something
it is trying to fill the unoccupied spaces
in my body

there are plenty of vacant spaces left within me
squatters decorate the rooms with their presence,
their knick knacks their petty sentimental garbage
and i’ve grown to cherish what they leave inside of me
if only temporarily

in the room of my head
there is a jazz club with a roof garden
the walls are rich thick wood
and the view is spectacular
the whole city is technicolor after a rainstorm from there

the jazz club is always kickin busy on the weekends
women in breathing black dresses sway to the wind blowing through
pulled along by men in nice suits with fancy hats
who know how to swing dance
they all appreciate the bass player
the way he tugs at his strings in the shadows
unseen but resonating in the blood of the party
the music is rarely driven by the words
it is all just tasteful chaos in here
on the best weekends the ghost of charlie parker comes
and plays his saxophone like he died doing that

the weekdays at the jazz club are hungover and dreary
the tables are messy, the help keep their hands full
clearing off the half full half empty wine glasses
they scrub the scuff marks out of the floors
they water the plants and they see the city around me
in the morning, when its ugly birthmarks are exposed
but they all find it beautiful and it is, just the same

in apartment number 303
there is a mad man, a painter, an artist
pacing like he, pacing like he, pacing like he
can’t finish his painting, he’s stuck, he can’t do it
he cringes in the empty corners, he holds his shins
he inspects the flecks of color on his denim jeans
he is neurotic, useless, talking to his easel and he
is lost, distant, unavailable, phone turned off, mailbox full
he has learned the art of not calling back credit card companies
he stares out windows like the world is staring in at him
he looks around paranoid for the telescopes and the spies
that probably aren’t there, but you can’t be too sure
he heard a crackle on the phone line, he keeps his chain lock on
and he has been known to play music to drown out the madness
of his babblings from the twisted ear listening in
he still hasn’t thought about his painting

in apartment 207
there’s a mother and a father with a brand new baby girl
and a jealous little boy who had to realize
there is a small possibility he is not the center of it all
they rock the little girl asleep and the boy goes out to the patio a lot
he watches the woman draining her soaked sheets the floor below
sometimes he’ll catch the rambling painter creating smoke above him
he looks out at the city like it isn’t real
like it’s something he made up to pass the time between now and then

the mother and father put the kids to bed at nine
the boy just lays awake restless in his dark bed
while the father puts a record on, gently places the needle
and him and the mother dance on yesterday’s newspaper
so they don’t spill wine on the rented carpet
they are careful not to wake their children with their need to love

the architect who designed this building must have been on drugs
there are staircases that don’t go anywhere
and there are attics where there should be basements
there are furnace rooms where there should be janitor closets
and there is this constant creaking
like the floors aren’t going to last much longer

in apartment 808
the bass bumps at inappropriate hours of the night
there is a black poet who lives there
who hums om to the radio until the frequencies pour through him
and he releases onto the white page of america
a cataclysmic inspired verse of devastating honesty
a drum beat manufactured from pieces of the artist soul
and held together with the glue of audacity
he carves his letters deep into the paper
in all caps with the taste of jaeger biting the ink

sometimes in the middle of the night
ghosts bang on his door, claw at the wood, moan in anger
but he never answers them, he just puts his headphones on
and sinks into the weight of horn-honking reality

in apartment 102
there is a 17 year old girl who ran away from home and lives alone
her boxes are half-unpacked and the rancid air is half-baked
as absurd as it sounds, she is building a tree in her windowless apartment
she is teaching it how to not need to be watered
but how to drink what is within you
she has a doll that she is teaching how to be a lady with your legs uncrossed
and how to love yourself more than anyone else ever could
because nothing is ever as unpredictable as someone else’s heart
she drew a painting of a window to hang on her wall
to feel like she can see what is outside of her room
there are mirrors all over her apartment, though she never looks in them

this building is not young
it has its history
there are plenty of people
who have been buried
beneath the floorboards
there is not really anything
to get bloodstains out of carpet

the ghosts they meander where and when they want to
they have no conception of daylight moonlight
they are not being afraid of being seen
they have learned that there is a beauty to be invisible
there is a certain power that comes with being dead
they mostly dance with one another
the hard part for them is always letting go
when the music stops, when that great something
evicts them from my apartment building

the wallpaper in the halls is peeling
the tenants take their hands and try to push it back up
but it wants to fall
reveal that beneath repetitive floral patterns
is porous walls that haven’t breathed in centuries

there is a great coat rack in the foyer
that will hold the hats of strange male guests
and the secrets of lonely old-fashioned women
it will hold the hands of crying honesty
and it will put your coat on your shoulders when you’re cold

in apartment 719
there is a couple that only leaves to let out the dog
to fetch the paper that they never read and to
buy the groceries that they’re so sick of buying
and they fight like the room had poisoned them
and they yell like they hoped someone would hear
the floor is broken dishes, the living room
is an out-of-business wedding chapel where they
look through old photographs that are starting
to not look like them anymore

in apartment 117
there is a back door that a tenant leaves unlocked
and on cold city nights, a couple sneaks in
and they lay on the bed that doesn’t have any sheets
and they take each other’s clothes off with their teeth
and they stare at each other naked and the talk to each other naked
and they find that after the roar of the heat of their sex
after they roll around on someone else’s bed
they find that they only want to stare at each other’s eyes
blinking and watching them dilate like ecstatic black holes
they leave scratches on each other’s backs
sometimes they write things in each other’s skin
“i would have kissed you while the twin towers fell”

sometimes they lay on their backs and watch the fan blades turn
in the heat of the summer they let open the back door
and they don’t worry about getting caught
because they haven’t really done anything wrong

the tenants change, the rooms get better then worse
the landlord mostly keeps out of the building
except for an occasional late night call
where he shows up with a flashlight and a wrench
and a midnight hangover to fix the frozen pipes

everyone shares the same washer and dryer there
everyone pays the rent as late as they possibly can
everyone knocks on someone else’s door at some point

i am not a model home
filled with hypnotic real estate agents
thick wallets yapping their mouths up and down
and little pieces of cheese pierced by toothpicks

i am not a suburban ranch style home
with sparkling floors and one family that i hold dearly

one of these nights
one of my tenants will be drunk and reckless
passed out in oblivion on some shitty couch
they will forget they turned the burner on
the hot stove will set fire to the walls
i will burn down and those who occupy me
will flee in quick fast lines
but once they are safe
they will turn and watch me go
taking with them what they can

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO

READ “WAKA”

About these ads

FEAR

fear is the strings that move the fingers across the typewriter
fear is the blood that pumps the legs through the unemployment line

fear is the crackle behind the mother’s voice in the son’s head
the father’s voice in the daughter’s head
fear is the force that lifts the blouse over the head
the pants down off the ankles
fear is the wind that blows the sheets off of the bed

fear is the truth that pushes the words from the back of the throat to the ears of the anxious
fear is the fire in the pit of the stomach that burns the oils of regret

fear is not the torch that leads through the tunnel
fear is what you are left with when the light goes out
when you walk blindly using the broken glass beneath your uncalloused feet to guide you to uncertain rooms, uncertain bars,
uncertain jobs, wars, trenches
into the uncertain hands of uncertain lovers
where on off day days you get a good glance at something fleeting
but worth the walk

fear is not the snap of a father’s belt

fear is those residual scars you choose to keep
and those you let fade
those battles you fight like a mad man
and those you let go of like lovers
you wanted to hold onto
but sometimes the things we want most
are the things that would kill us

fear is the bones beneath the skin of courage
and fear is what is left in the ground
when we disattach
unafraid
from our bodies

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “LOITERING IN THE PARKING LOT OF AN EVIL BANKING CORPORATION”

THEATER #17

do you know what it’s like to tear tickets at a podium
standing on the same set of legs for twelve hours?

i do.

do you know what it’s like to make enough popcorn
to feed the swarming, blood-thirsty masses
of horny adolescent locust cows
filtering mercilessly into the concession stand?

to burn a perfect batch of kettle corn, terrified
as the sweet smoke rises towards the fire detectors
and you know if it gets to be too much
that the alarms will sound
and the box office will have to refund
every ticket sold that evening
to the growling sheep ready to pounce at guest services?

to sit alone in a giant room filled with candy
disgustingly suicidal at three in the morning
counting pieces of stale sour strips by the pound
when all you want is to go home
and die for a day or two in your warm bed?

to wear a three-piece-suit in a congested concession stand
making popcorn bites and overpriced pizzas
while your sixteen-year-old cohorts jack off behind you?

to hold the door for the smiley motherfuckers coming out
of rancid movie theaters leaving behind used condoms
and the scent of bad chainsaw-slasher-horror-movies
and pubescent screams like sadistic adolescent dry humps
in the back of minivans?

to digest a three-course-meal of super nachos
topped with synthetic guacamole
and diluted jalapenos
and insecure sour cream and cheese
that turns to stone in your lower intestines
that you eat on a ten minute grace period
between cleaning monster theaters
where children find ways of getting sour patch kids
and malted milk balls stuck on the ceiling?

to tell the new hires to go get more ice mix
or to only scrub the yellow squares of the carpet
because they’re the only ones that get dirty
or to tell them to go clean theater seventeen
because haha, there’s only sixteen theaters here?

to escape from the cinematic madness to the back room
where the drink compressors hiss
and the dishwasher gargles
and there’s a starry-eyed girl waiting there
and in the midst of gladiator battles and spaceship races,
there is a moment of nothing

where the universe puts its phones on silent
and you too can kiss like you think you know what love is?

to run the satellite food station on a tuesday night
which means you have plenty of free time
to contemplate why you need a second food staion
open a god-forsaken tuesday night?

to have your boss pull you aside to tell you
that you can’t show up to work drunk anymore
and it’s okay if you’re late
just call.

to lock up the front doors at closing
and then to unlock the arcade games
so you and your stupid coworkers can play pinball
and DDR to your little infantile heart’s content
and little known fact -
the high scores on the arcade games at the movie theater
are held by the employees of said movie theater.

to walk to the last bus in the streetlight twilight
with a black trash bag full of popcorn
that keeps you company on the lurking ride home?

to be a ghost in the projector room
to be God flashing images of everylife and eternal heartbeat
onto the anorexic white screen of pure truth?

to sit in a GMC Jimmy at four in the morning
listening to song ADD with a sweet girl
who happens to be your boss
who you like to make out with -
who cares?!
the movie theater isn’t exactly your five-year-plan?

to go talk to the widowed ticket-taker
who hugs you with her eyes
and tells stories the way stories are meant to be told
between two people
instead of between a gaggle of morons
and a billion dollar budget?

to be stuck in the money room
starving for food and moonlight
but you aren’t leaving
until one hundred dollars finds itself?

to go home smelling like decaying sugar
and italian sodas and superficial butter and sweat
and the dead babies living in the squeaky movie theater seats
and coke and diet coke and icees, yeah, blue raspberry icees
and all-beef hot dogs and so much drama
and it was the worst job ever and it was yes.

just yes.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO

READ “WENDOVER, UTAH”