Sin Sabor

For Ron Vawter,
who drove ahead

The play reading ran late,
a circle of breathy voices
giving endless emotional cpr
to a breakup scenario.
A miasma
of pause-­inflated dread
filled the lofty ceiling space, floating
from the windows and into the streets
of Chelsea. It rises and falls,
restless among the leafy branches,
like a python with indigestion
from swallowing something massive
and insoluble.
The sky rumbles.
In my car on West 16th St,
I’m huddled like a mouse
caught with a stolen crumb,
stuffing a taco
from the lone truck, Idolo,
into my mouth, glorious juice
of the chicharrón en salsa verde,
barbecued ears of the puerco, trickling
down my wrists and into my lap.
I consider the meat,
surrendering its complications to the dark
blur of a man behind the greasy clouds
of an acrylic window. He could be a priest
in a confessional, he could be
a therapist, poking at this marinated stuff, turning
and turning it with the long-­handled tongs
of consoling acronyms. The heat
is so low it is almost ashes.
What are they, the pieces, at this point,
without the gentle embrace of the tortilla?
I squeeze tighter, to cram it in, to wrap
my teeth around it. The floppy ends drip
clear and green, smelling like wet corn,
an escape as endlessly teasing
as a joke dancing away from a punchline
that can’t quite catch up.
Through the car windows
footsteps feel like an echo,
and a couple emerge from the shadows
of Angel Street Thrift Shop, laughter trailing
like wind chimes, hesitating when our eyes meet,
with the tremor of a puerco whispering hola
to the cleaver. Yes,
I want to say to them,
it can come down to this, fumbling
in the dark for shreds
of a leaking, split-­apart taco
on your car seat,
which in the dark
can feel for a heartbeat
like velvet.