On the streets, none have considered
having a family or their already-existing parents.
Slender women, crosses consumed in satanic flames
sewn in gold into their black stockings,
smoke cigarettes to awaken their searches.
I’m not going to stop drinking.
I’ve already told her this, though
we aren’t always able to have it on
the way we used to have it.
I reach into the pockets of my trench coat,
my professor dress pants.
Find a few rolled-up bills, a charge-less phone.
She’s said, we’ll make a deal with each other.
You can keep your forsaken whisky and I’ll
have Adderall. We’ll cross over to the other side
and there will be pink unicorns and board games
where we can finally win something, someday, together.
Don’t want to die tonight I mean, but right, we will, are going…
The night becomes silent. We sleep together naked,
try and prompt something.
The gas station attendant from Bangalore, maybe Chittagong,
is pulling down the metal night-doors,
padlocks placed, the green BP sign
flickering in the Bushwick street lights
through the windows on Grand Avenue.
Our mutually cold skin touching, I smell of 555 State Express.
No one would have you now, like this, she says. You are a void.
Thin, half-dressed men with pipes stand next to
the deactivated pumps outside the station.
No one does have me now, I say, and she stops to think—
about the lights, something in my voice—as the sound
of metal doors closing clangs in, percussive, through the window.
“My Lover” is more or less autobiographical. The gas station existed, as did the door that gets pulled up and down. As with most of these types of things, one loses track of the person, the exact setting details. I do know that the apartment faced the gas station, and just around the corner there was a bar with darts and a songwriters’ circle on Mondays that sometimes I stayed up to go to on Metropolitan Avenue. The feelings, and how your mind translates where you were, remain.
To learn more about Smith’s writing process visit another one of his poems in this issue: Anarchists in Grad School.