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Velvet Hours

Marcello Cortese


On the concrete, I think of my sister.

While I sit beside a sister-like fire hydrant.

It is so warm and so soft, glowing like the fireplace

Of the moon.

And because the moon is out, I think

I have fallen below the line of stoicism.

For the past week, the marriage of my life has

Been insomnia and splendor, both the two smiling grooms

To my groomsman.

It is only out here, where it is

So warm and soft with kindness, that I take

The moment to acknowledge my pride. Not in the terms

Of my vanity, no, but rather of a simpler cloth that I am

Cut from:

I. Am. Romance.

And I find that within anything I do, anyone shall find praise

So easily, like the expected pill bug under a shallow rock.

Those who see it, too, demand the elevation of my breaths and thoughts;

Things that dance, just as we all do,

Under the streetlamps of ourselves.

I do form intention, and for that reason,

I am precisely the alchemic mixture that bubbles up.

And up. Then over.

Another day, another week, another waking dawn before we roar

A bus is filled with cater waiters: black and white and red-

Socked things drinking themselves to death and back

With corner store coffee and old fruits.

The cigarettes come later.

Later in the yawns the smoke replaces within our lungs.

Later, in those yawns before the sun, after the moon, there is a gleam

Of patent on the leather of the street,

Which is surely to be piss up close

Which is why I look from a distance.

I’d rather the shine be leather.

No one can wear heels here. No one can wear anything, really.

Boston was an angler fish, just dark enough so you can’t

See it coming.

And New York is a waning gibbous,

Both will take you by surprise, like the English coast.

Of course, that’s what my sister says.

She’s been fond of the moon since birth.


And under those dimmed streetlamps of distant provinces

There are cataclysmic cha-chas; one, two, dancing feet.

Like a Tuesday afternoon.

The women’s barren legs are at aphelion

The men’s prepared wrists in perihelion.

Where Charleston used to be the rave,

Now, In the dark, there is Russian Roulette

Just outside of the oil-lamp glows.

By the ferry building, couples and throuples take

To the sea by means of their shoes

That should not be exposed to water.

We have danced under a sculpture before.

But now, it is only carnivorous cries that kiss the laughing

Of the tapping dance shoes.

No one can see the bow now.

I step aside and away from it all to look at the party-and-church-

Goers of my life, unfolding themselves.

They are drunk on revelry, excitable by the aqua stars, and

As they sing and stumble on their arms and voices,

I know that they all belong to me.

Their loveless and soundless humping,

I know you would like the image.

Because before the morning there will be a gun

-Shot of excited and eloquent insults,

But, for now, there is only us. And them.

I am not in love.

But I know what I mean

When I speak of the party of my mind

And those that attend it.

Outside, in the opulent champagne

That is a puddle of New York’s finest yellow,

I find a glimpse of you in the whoop of a drowning woman.

Where once there was a beauty from afar,

Replacing it is only the reality of the coming daytime.

And the daytime has no shine.

It was better then.

Wet and happy, they all return

To dry land.

Then, in the open air of the sky,

The guests have long checked and taken back their coats

And now is the hour that their jewels rise

On necks and things

Into the wakening white pinpricks


Marcello Cortese is a New York-based novelist and poet. His prose and poetry reflect the silent beauties and verbose cynicisms in life, exploring the enlightenment of human intellect and expression in a diurnal capacity. He has written a handful of poems and two novels to date, with a third ensuing.

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