the streets of sacramento changing
new apartment buildings
restaurants and shops
my back was achin i
could not get to sleep
ten years ago was an empty
warehouse waitin to be
now shes all grown up like
the cost of living
someone who could not believe
pushed out into the country
the clock struck five. the sun was eye level and had turned the bridge gold. i was in a fight for my life. i ran as fast as i could. he was standing there trying to look bored, a blade taped to his ankle, roll of cash in his pocket. just in time. i had my tights on beneath a canvas jacket. we walked along the homeless encampment with its tents and bicycle parts and indigents sitting around a smoking fire. i won’t take nothing if you’re not done yet. i told him i was. i had spent the last four weeks chained to a desk writing several thousand words a day. i pulled the manuscript out from under my jacket. he tried to stare at the cracks in the sidewalk because he didn’t want me to see his eyes light up. i took the money and bought myself a room for a week at the Citizen. i asked for a window to the park so i could look down upon the high fountain surrounded by benches…the cafe. Cesar Chavez had his back to me. i remembered when i was down and out, too. i situated my desk just so. it wouldn’t take long to tell the honest truth.
my thoughts spoke for themselves my
feelings could scarcely be
any time of triumph of the spirit
rather sloppy and
we rode on out to see your cousins down along the river road, into the delta and god was it beautiful, America. dazzling on an autumn afternoon. we paid respects to your mom along the way. the sun would leave the cemetery sky red hot on its descent in the west. i never knew your father was an artist until you showed me his studio deep in the lot, behind the garage. there was a portrait of a beautiful woman on the easel, maybe the beloved in the beloved years? 94 now he lives with sophia the cavalier.
back to wood floors. they are pulling up the carpets now. the orange tree what with its lime hybrid. beginning to bear fruit. we shared baked beans and fried chicken and i listened to his story of coming to this country, up from Mexico, a teenager hoping on some work and a couple hundred dollars to take home. an older man convinced him to hop the freight train and go north to Indio. from there they decided on Sacramento. the man taught him if you dress up a little you can get work easy. he doesn’t know what became of his friend, who got drunk one night and disappeared. that was three quarters of a century ago. old sacramento was a community of migrants.
i wonder about the spirit and where it travels when somebody is no longer around? your dad is a good man. what a life. he’s been through it. and he still gets up and out into the orchard for it. working for more at ninety-four.
the sky was a peach at sunset and fire at dawn and we ate lemon ice and prayed that the city’s electrical grid would hold up. the number of homeless had risen and not all could not be housed. caring citizens were combining forces and giving away tents on the weekend. others were cold complaining to cops and assemblymen: get these sorry-ass derelicts off of my street!
ghost. tower bridge
Several minutes before midnight we were passing through letters and numbers of roads. The harvest had grown thin with the moon, and the night was lit in pockets by neon-spelled vacancies between empty lots and service stations on the main thoroughfare. The fires of hell had been subdued by the fighters, and left a tinge of smoke to permeate the valley air. I hugged my sweatshirt close and listened to the engine of the truck as you brought her to speed. The tower bridge was in sight now, outlined by spotlights facing up to the sky. The river swirled quiet below in the dark, turning and churning and yearning for sea. We could not help but seeing a figure, taller than life and draped in unknown layers of cloth, standing in the middle of the street at the entrance to the bridge. I looked at you and you looked at me. A chill came across our engines, as we thundered on by in the lowest of gears. The figure stood perfectly still. I tried to see who it might be and found myself looking into a void with no face and no name, and no resonance of life, none whatsoever! We both knew instinctively after passing, not to look back. I looked down at the body of water and saw some reflections of light in the water. The bridge underneath spoke out against the weight of us… even they! even they!Even they, more alive than the ghost!