Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oakland is all trees in the fog

Oakland is all trees in the fog
based on sight lines coated with
balcony cocktails.

Great towns with names
that belonged to generals
who are not around
to see the pretty lights
along the harbor drives.

Every unmarked grave
is where the promise of
literacy fails another child
left in the backseat of a car
who is just waiting to be picked
like a cherry.

I say cell phone
you say call me
I say I’m in jail
you say call me
I say this is my one phone call
you say I’m losing you
I say nothing at all.

An ugly tie around the neck
will keep the dogs away,
but they will do anything
about bad drivers
who have no sense of territory,
they leave their car parts
all over the city.

Steve greets me at the
airport when the rain begins to
blast the cities on both sides of the bay.

We are on a tour
of dive bars
that snake up the sides of the Freeway
all through Hotel Circle.

The pants are lacquered stiff
over the bottom half
of a manikin,
and we go from off ramp to off ramp
photographing with cheap cameras,
stiff, crusted pants
set against the power lines
and Burger King signs
that configure the sky over
the permanent streams of cars
coursing north and south below.

Hours go by
at the news stand
when you realize
that your date
is not showing up,
and it’s a shame
you say, to be so full
of news with no one
to argue with
until the hands of your watch
creep ‘til twelve
and your wound so tight
with verbs and adjectives.

Tonight is such
a rattled pane of glass.
that even a pale moon
seen from a foggy window
such as happens in
best selling novels
and anthologized poems
cannot deliver you from evil
or the inevitability of a slap
with a flat palm, hard like
knuckles playing piano,
solid like prayers
cemented into church walls.

Half of what
you buy is always
left on loading dock
when it's five after twelve noon,
pleated pants and imported Cd's
waiting on a tuna sandwich
and an over- carbonated coke.