Transferring Trains at 34th Street/Penn Station
I’m walking a tunnel south and I see Phil—Phil
Kim, a man I work with—walking the very same
tunnel north. It’s Phil—I’m sure of it—Phil’s clean-
shaven face sitting atop a nice long black coat. Our
eyes meet. But Phil passes me by without a word.
Offended, I turn, I say, “Phil! Phil Kim.” “Yes?”
Phil says as he turns in his tracks. He is weary, but
polite. Studying my bearded face more closely,
peering through my eyeglass lenses, he says, “I’m
sorry, how do I know you?” “Phil,” I say, “Phil, it’s
me, Steven Cordova—we work together at the
hospital.” “No, Phil says, “I don’t work at a
hospital.” “But your name is Phil? Phil Kim?”
“Yes,” he says, “my name is Phil, Phil Kim.”
“Well,” I smile, “it’s nice to meet to you, Phil Kim
Two.” “It’s nice to meet you, too,” Phil Kim Two
says, and, as I’m walking away, shaking my head,
smiling in disbelief, I hear a stranger—a man I just
passed by without a word—say, “Steven! Steven
At the Urinal
I’ve heard men,
members in hand,
fart with a sonorous boom,
burp, hack up the phlegm
brought on by the overpriced
steak they just inhaled
& must now pay for.
At the urinal, I’ve heard men
spit mucus-wads with a gusto
meant to say No need to
apologize or feel embarrassed.
This is our place, the place
we let it all hang out.
Oh, the things I’ve heard.
The Headless Homosexual
“I lost my hat. Remember that, Sebastian? Then, the day after that, I lost my body wash; and the day after that it was my one-buck copy of Elizabethan Sonnets. And today?—today, it’s another book!
“One day, one day soon,” I blather on, “you’re gonna go back into that locker room and find my head!”
“Yes,” Sebastian laughs. “I’ll open a locker and there it’ll be—your head! ‘Thank God you found me!’ it’ll say. ‘I’ve been in here for days!’”
His willingness to laugh at my jokes (okay, to laugh at our jokes) is one of the many things I like about Sebastian. He’s an ex-con, Sebastian is. He works at the gym and sits for hours on a cold, hard stool, greeting those who will be greeted and letting those who won’t pass.
Would Sebastian understand if I told him my disembodied head may not wish to be reunited with my estranged body;
that the body is in and of itself a beautiful thing; the head, too, a beautiful thing, but that—sometimes, quite often, actually—they are two things better left apart?
Steven Cordova’s full-length collection of poetry, Long Distance, was published by Bilingual Review Press in 2010. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Callaloo, The Journal, Los Angeles Review, and Northwest Review. He reviews fiction and nonfiction for Lambda Literary. From San Antonio, TX, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Destinee Dearbeck