I am not the Avenue of the Americas;
I have never been topless at Billy’s Topless—
no one in Manhattan ever called the Avenue of the Americas
the Avenue of the Americas we called it Sixth Avenue.
When I was living in Manhattan
the bar I went to most often on Sixth Avenue
was Billy’s Topless
but I hardly ever drank there because I hardly ever drank on the Avenue of the Americas.
I’d shop everywhere,
Midtown, Times Square,
but buying my drinks there felt wrong.
More often than not I drank Downtown,
I didn’t want to hang around Uptown for too long where it was too clean,
I couldn’t belong,
and sometimes I had to work there.
Fuck, some Midtown firm fired me after one day
because I smelled like a Downtown drinker—
Goldman Sachs, Downtown, let me work for them for two entire months
on the nightshift.
I’d never accept myself as a member
of high society because
Manhattan when it’s dirty is in its glory,
I’d take the money and take it Downtown.
Downtown Manhattan in America,
I can’t count on one hand
the number of times I drank anywhere else in Manhattan,
but even when I was drunk I could always count on Downtown.
Some drunk dying, some Houston street whore,
when I was living there I was alive
with my friends and none of us were dying yet and one time someone pulled
on my long hair but I was never really attacked.
I left the Avenue of the Americas and I went Downtown
into the dirt, to the low and heavy end where all the soot settles,
around the corner from the world, from where they saved the robots,
before even the places like these I never went were gone.
Then I went down the stairs,
said so long
to my landlord
and drove down south until I, too, was gone.
— Jose Padua