The Light is not the only soul in the room with a teaching credential.
“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.
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.
Where did this weight — solid rock crushing my chest into spine — come from? “You know very well. That fight? Fourth grade? Wyoming?” Yeah. So maybe it's time to build a house with that old stone and move.
Hey, bro! I did her! With sunglasses on! — Memorial Acclamation Go do it, then, whatever it is that you do — sex someone, buy that ring — film it, even, make a record of your elementary courage and then social your accomplishment to your kind. After all, you have the keys — (Secret gesture. Secret gesture. Secret gesture!) — and I should want to be just like you. But, no. If you’re going to do it, hijo, choose a field where you will get caught and shot and then I’ll know you’re real. Let your body stand erect as rifles are raised by priests and soldiers; stand before their righteous hate, alone, knowing you die for your desire. Then I’ll follow. In your childlike voice: “It was just a little fun!” “Why do you have to be so serious?” Mi pequeñito, you have a thousand ways to explain your survival — as his blood sings from Spain, intones a truth known only to me: Divinity is a dead body, sinking and stinking, unliked and unfriended, shot by justice, abhorred by Church, buried nowhere but my heart. Cristo amó. Cristo murió. Cristo murió.
“Dolores Park, SF”
I should write something, here from this perch above the city. But what? Walking up 14th, I saw a guy shooting up between his toes. He'll be dead soon. And then the perfect couple modeling their perfect lululemon exercising their perfect dogs — already dead.
Back to Poems.
You know — there’s a book…