MEMORIES OF A NEW JERSEY PROJECT by LUKE KUZMISH

New Jersey is a convenience store
I hunted for an ATM on an October night.
I had avowed to never use heroin again but now
I was half-drunk or half-sober
The bartender immediately made me for what I was
miserable and unconvinced that anyone had an answer
or anything to offer
to supplement the human condition
there were bottles of liquor in the back
a dining room off to the right
down a rickety hallway
I told him I was broke
when I didn’t leave him much of a tip
On a sixty dollar tab
I have to imagine
I wasn’t the first
Nor the last
To lie in a barroom
under dim light
in the fall of a New Jersey night
Then my house guest and I
Left to go cop
In the projects of Trenton
I made him drive
I was too drunk
We showed up
And parked in a fenced in lot
“Don’t talk to nobody”
advised
The man on the phone who I never met.
In New Jersey
There’s always a voice on the end of the line
that never matches
the person who strolls up to
the Korean made car window
after making me wait
A woman showed up
I had seen her before
She was tall and thin
Long expensive hair
And a leather jacket
somewhere between
rusted chain link
and towering brick apartment
buildings
There were shots fired
Just before
her hand met mine
“Oh shit”
she turned and walked off
my salvation
walked off with her
my inert wad of 20s
wrapped tight in my drunken fingers
my friend
his first full night here in Jersey
turned on the car
and
over the din
of city cop SUV sirens
 I said
“No
let’s stay”

Luke Kuzmish is a new father, recovering addict, software developer, and writer from Erie, Pennsylvania. His poetry has been featured by Beatnik Cowboy, Transcendent Zero Press, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Alien Buddha Press. His latest collection, ‘Hurry Up Wagon,’ was published by Poets’ Hall Press in July 2019.
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