The clothes are perfumed in the store
I cannot stop buying from,
one wash and it’s gone unlike
the soy sauce on my work shirt or
the disarming old man at Union Square Station,
blue gaze tied somewhere behind him,
playing a derailed violin like a wind-up,
eight bars at a time, repeat,
scraping at our zirconia patience.
His foot tambourine would earn
more dollar on its own. New York,
I am ashamed to say I cannot stand him,
his Marcel Marceau smile,
the aqueducts his simplistic tunes
dig into my brain’s jukebox, which cannot
stop cashing dimes on the same jangle.
I hop to it into my home,
into the sinewy forearms of my love
who considers the old man adorable
because he sees his own inner old man
harvesting joy from ripping up newspaper
to feed the birds of the ladies’ feet.
We waltz to the negotiated rhythm
of our days as the ghosts in the kitchen cabinet
stop peeling apples and clap their hands.
For the beautiful girl whose sweat
smelled like salami, he bought
a record player, the kind in the window.
She worked at the airport,
owned no records.
She raised the arm,
and let the small Ganesha figurine
ride the platter,
one short spin after the next.
She watched it after dinner.
She’d leave off to let
the dog watch it, too,
as it fell asleep hungry.
The man would appear
at the window, propped open
with a plastic asteroid
from the airport dime machine.
He took a breath every time
Ganesha turned its back to him.
In such a way, it was possible
to get through April.
The three neglected electric bills
fell apart in his pocket, and slowly,
through the hole, managed
to escape from him entirely.
Our green horse ate some green grass
and became translucent.
He read a book on how to wreck towns
and chew clotheslines with blue underwear.
You saw him coming
when the edges of street signs blurred and trembled.
We lost the title of the only village
with a green horse. Everyone was livid
and flushed their badges down the drain.
The horse lived in my closet for a month.
I did not tell anyone, though my little cousin
with the mole on the tip of his nose
charged the house with this wooden sword
and, when the adults were drunk, charged
with the empty chicken skewers,
the grease still dripping from them,
until he had blood. I’m not saying
he killed the horse. I cannot tell
the rest of the story, I just can’t.
There was a note in block letters
on the counter the next day.
The kitchen window moved
from wall to wall, dragging
its unwilling piece of sky with it.
The new moon a thread
caught on the dusty overcoat
of the sky. The butterfly children
put on their clothes inside-out.
Hot water must be poured
on a new broom,
so the straw doesn’t break.
The fog in Sofia, permanent
stink of late winter.
Most children want to grow up.
Radko wanted to grow down.
He became smaller and smaller,
soon a louse on the sidewalk.
How about now, Radko, the kids laughed,
still growing down?
Radko started to grow into the earth.
First, a few inches, then as far
as a lamppost. He walked on the asphalt
underside in his metal boots,
shaking the stupid playground,
making noses bleed. He slept
in the roots of mountains, drank
from the rivers’ knees.
In adolescence, his hair reached
the hot core, became on fire.
Little air was there to feed it.
He paced, waving his lit bangs,
took his dinner on tectonic plates.
The high-pitched voice of the children
reached him, again,
Where, Radko, will you grow down to now?
and breathed bubbles of air
into the earth with straws
until Radko’s hair singed his shoulders
and he threw a handful of third century
Thracian bones at the kids,
charred bones, drumming on the asphalt
just as loud
as the bratty whining of swings.