KEITH HARING’S GHOST PAINTS THE 21ST CENTURY SISTINE CHAPEL IN ONE OF THE TWENTY-PLUS PLACES IN QUEENS WITH THE NAME π˜‘π˜–π˜Œβ€™π˜š π˜‹π˜Œπ˜“π˜ by J.B. Stone

I headed into one of the twenty-plus places in Queens with the name Joe’s Deli, and saw Keith Haring stained-glassed into a double rainbow bursting out from a stretch of clouds. Like a Kodak moment one can’t capture in any take, or the fugitive from a valley of shooting stars, his body split into a chain of multi-colored paper dolls, slowly unshackling dead tree confines, grooving, and moving like no one else was watching. Phife Dawg was there, dressed in a Nike Jumpsuit, fitted cap, and let his cosmic carpet smile shine down like a billboard for better days. Frank Sinatra sang his younger self into the projected dreams of every apple tree that failed to grow on the sidewalks of Bleecker Street. Gorilla Monsoon was 30 again, rocking his leotard, grizzled face, barbaric muttonchop and all, howling at every demolished marquee that couldn’t keep their lights on. Aliyah was in a better space, guzzling a bottle of Bacardi, profiling a Gucci sundress, tangerine sunglasses, all the while, belting melodies that would make every god and goddess on Mount Olympus weep. Biz Markie wore a conical party hat, blowing a polka-dot noisemaker right into the face of Christopher Wallace, A.K.A. Notorious B.I.G. He wasn’t afraid to crack a grin, in the most colorful sweater, a bejeweled crown atop his head, raising a glass of his favorite cocktail to let the world know he is still kicking it, even in death’s hallows. Jam Master Jay snatched the light of the sun, and spun it into a tape deck of celestial turntables. My roommate from the dorms of NYU, JosΓ© Maldanado, cruised in his mother’s station wagon that ran on the fuel of every newborn fawn stumbling into the sunken forests of Fire Island. My Grandpa Isaak stood on the cliffside quarry of the George Washington Bridge, looking down on me like Chubbs Peterson down to the somber face of Happy Gilmore, staining his lucky Keith Hernandez Mets jersey, devouring a kosher charcuterie of chopped chicken liver, olive medley, dill pickles, top round crackers, gefilte fish with beets horseradish, and his all-time favorite: cow tongue. I just stood in awe, like a child standing in front of the most intimidating cathedral. Watching skyline after skyline brush-stroked into the blank-space firmaments of New York City. Part of me still had absolutely no idea what was going on, part of me didn’t know if this was real, or just fantasy: but all of me didn’t care. For a moment, I embrace the dead and enjoyed the scenery.


J.B. Stone is a Neurodivergent/Autistic slam poet, writer, editor, and literary critic from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo, NY. He is the author of A Place Between Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018), INHUMAN ELEGIES (Ghost City Press 2020), and Fireflies & Hand Grenades (Bottlecap Press 2022). He is the Editor-In-Chief/Reviews Editor at Variety Pack and a Reader at Uncharted Magazine. His work has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Noctua Review, Peach Mag, HAD, Rejection Letters, Atlas and Alice, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flashback Fiction, among other places.

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