Pragmatism

“Good intentions last longer in Boston,”
the man tattooing my arm didn’t say
but I understood – I’ve seen autumn
leaves blowing from churchyard trees
in the center of the city, the streets
are littered here with drifters and bastard
sons of rail-riders who found the sea –
of course angels get lost in the mayhem,
why else would I want wings etched on me,
why else would “go to Hell” mean so little
if we were not already beside the congealed sea
passing the shadow of the valley of death,
Welcome to L.A., kid, he said, and I gave the money
I’d gotten from the East Coast, when the leaves
on the trees had fallen; these woods are rotting.