Oxnard Street Poet

Older than the sidewalk cracks and
street, settled on his flaking porch,
he remembered the Valley when it was trees.

“I’m ready to not be old,”
he said as I passed by.
His eyes were uncommonly blue,
for an old man.
He said: “They published my poem.”
I was on my way to school,
about to not stop.
“Once I get the book,
I’ll read it to you.”

*

The book cost $49.95.
He held up the flyer they sent.
But he was proud, 
so I said nothing.

*

“Hallo,” he’d say,
waving from his chair.
“Hello,” I’d say,
not wanting to be rude.
Lovely day,
awesome morning,
top of the world,
hello, hallo,
have a good day.

Joe was great-uncle wrinkled,
and I had class to get to,
I was a Senior.
But everyone should talk
to a grandpa sitting on a porch.

*

He asked if I wanted to read his poem.
The book was thick with cheap paper.
I was late but said yes
and the poem was about apples
and I didn’t have to make something up.
It was worth more than the book.

“Do you like it?” he asked.
“I want to read it to my English class.”
Joe gave me his book.
He said to be careful with it.
“I never got published before.”

*

We sat watching cars
speed down Oxnard Street,
heads moving left to right
then back again, ready.

*

Joe made coffee
and I listened to stories.
He voted for Roosevelt
and Nixon, twice —

“bet you no one’ll ever tell you that!” —

He didn’t like his grand-daughter.
He said I wouldn’t either.
“Uppity.  Ugliness is inner.”
He said if you wanted to get 
a pothole fixed in LA,
put a movie-camera next to it
and the mayor would come fill it himself.

He so near the end
talked to me so near the beginning,
said we were bookends on God’s shelf.
His hands trembled, so I carried the cups.
“That’s what age does,
shakes us loose
from the inside out.”

*

The Oxnard Street poet and
an uppity kid who learned to listen
to words warmed by coffee
and care
and age.

More poetry here.

Stories? Here.

For Now

The sun feels good in this world,
warm,
wide-windowed breeze
and your brown clone sunglasses
with golden wire frames.
I think I’m falling.

With you, my skin is tanned to sand,
porch-picnic-ready,
your mom asking “So is he
treating you good?”
When I say yes,
she gets that twinkle
so I know what she means.
I nod, shy; she smiles, 
proud of her son.

I sit in your world
and we all eat chicken and talk
about school and 
TV and
how you know when you’re in love.
(They had a lot of wine.)
Here, your parents are mine;
they don’t have to say 
I’m welcome.

Now I remember:
Mom hides fear in her smile
while dad tries hard to forget
me,
sewn up tight as he
feasts on fury.
I am a billion sand-pieces
waiting for glass.

“Come on,” you say.
“The road’s too cool
for that.”
So I wrench out of then, 
kiss this
forget that
for now.

More? Click here.

Victory

“Stand back, stand by.”

I am about to know

I have loam and rock for a back
and blue-grey sky for a head

honor an orange sun yellow
and gaze purple into ink

rest in love
as I have done all these years,
wake to heartbeats
and sleep with all sighs.

Then 

when unripe Boys rape in dirt
and shoot dark;

masturbate dry pricks
blood-smear voided genitals

kill this body
gorge on dull meat
eat our kind
burn our memory;

then

my arms Earth and Sky
my companion-Sun
my love this man

envelop me
pierce this hell
carry me home.

More poetry HERE.

FR-eee!

W-R-O-N-G
is a sound.
Go ahead and make it,
SoundMaker.
W-R -- do you feel the 
gravel in your chest?
Vibration?
O-N -- 
almost an OHMMMMM,
almost prayer,
right?

R-I-G-H-T
is a sound.
Go ahead and make it,
SoundMaker.
Different, eh?
Frequency rests
someplace else --
R-H-I, closer to 
my head.
Distant. BRI-ght.

Now say
P-O-O-P!
Or L-O-V-E.
OR...

SoundMaker,
SOUND!
Stop thinking
letters.
G-OH
into the FEE-lds
and FO-wrists
and BRIE-thhhh!
Sound FRE-eee to LoverSound.
I'll be waiting
to SOW-nd with you.

Want more words? Click here.

AfterQuestions

God keeps me alive
because I have questions
for “after.”
Serious questions.
Questions I know he can’t answer.

Like:

Why is my nose crooked?
Really?  You couldn’t give me something straight?
Anything STRAIGHT?

And why not save us from 
ALL of the Falwell’s — 
let’s go further —
all fundamentalists?
(If you say Free Will
I swear to you I’ll throw 
Crohn’s Disease
in your face.  
Free Will.  
Shit.)
They’re ruining the world
and my upstanding view
of pool boys.  Please!

And as long as we’re here,
not that I’m complaining,
— I’m totally cool in that department —  
but how come
skinny-skater Bodie
was given that dick?
Can you just answer me that?
Was it a reward?
Maybe recognition for his
Exceptional Contribution 
to Human Progress?
I’m sure he’s saved 
hoards with his Board —
it all seems just a little…
peculiar.

More:  

Did you have to let
America have the nukes?
You knew what we’d do,
and there were Canadians nearby.
And why did you let Republicans
happen?
Why are people in Bakersfield
so proud?
Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond?

(Free Will, again, right?)

And there’s this skater named Bodie,
maybe I mentioned him?
Why?
Just why?

See you in a bit.

More Poetry? Click Here.

Stories? Click here.

Mine

He’s a poster.
He posed for it,
flexed.
Baseball player
who’s won —
wife, kid, God, arms.

Good.
Yes.
I wish him well...

and then plod
up my empty street
soaked in past
and full of dark.
The house is on the right.
A light is on.
He waits for me.

Posters aren’t made of me.
My triceps don’t act like that.
Fans?  No.
My shy love
and this quiet plot,
beautiful,
mine and silent and 
home.

I’ll choose mine
every 
time.

More Poetry? Click here.

A story or five? Click here.

Trick

Is there a trick,
some magical flick,
to that condo way up high?
A wave of the hand
that clears streets to sand
for more than a moment by?

Maybe a way
(I'm afraid to say)
to skip this world and my shame?
To live where I'm rich,
escape this poor niche,
trade up to long-sought-for fame?

Yes.

A warning:

People starved for that condo.
And your rich-world, buddy?
It’s all paid for 
with blood.

(Fuck.  Rhyming seems so stupid now.)