Puma Perl

Jack’s in the desert
The Writer’s on 11th Street
3,000 miles away
is the same distance
as twenty New York blocks

We’re an apocalyptic
Jules ét Jim,
maintaining connections
without the luxury
of lapsing
the way we often did

Are you ok?
is how we start,
move into poetry
sex and whiskey
upon the participants

I know The Writer
since I’m 17 years old
He was a few years older,
the tallest, toughest guy
in the room
He scared the shit out of me
but the roles are now reversed

Jack and I met on
My random, deliberate
Roger Rabbit reference
propelled us into parallel universes,
sometimes overlapping
sometimes crashing
sometimes silent

We’ve met a few times
Far and few between
and have written hundreds
of poems back and forth

Some of my best ones
inspired by this madman
in his desert bunker,
a place I’ll never see
The Writer’s the kind of guy
who still calls his place
his “pad,” and addresses
all women as “baby”
and occasionally “doll”

He was my best friend’s boyfriend,
the first to leave our Brooklyn landscapes
for the Village apartment he still occupies,
walls yellowed from cigarette smoke
despite the lung damage caused by post 911 air

Teaching English at Murray Bergstrom High School
did not protect him from first responders’ symptoms
although he’d be the first to admit he’s never been a hero

I recognized the similarity in their sensibilities
and now they write back and forth as well

The Writer says Jack is a “good cat”
They’ve made friends, unusual for both of them,
but they’ve got writing and me in common
if not much else

I check on The Writer
Jack checks on me
I check on him

Several times daily
and sometimes at night
In the end, it’s as easy to socially distance
whether you’re 3,000 miles apart
or twenty New York City blocks.

PUMA PERL is an award-winning poet, writer, and journalist, and has five solo collections in print. She is the producer and creator of Puma’s Pandemonium, which brings spoken word together with rock and roll, and she performs regularly with her band, Puma Perl and Friends. She lives and works on the Lower East Side.