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.

Eodem die

bacteria invades and
infects Los Angeles,
leaving it with a thick
congestion of the chest.

silenced by coughing fits,
the city opens its mouth
but phlegm distorts the
history it tries to tell.

only ears forced to concrete
can make out the steady
heartbeat of the city.

knees scrape against the sidewalk,
blood dripping in synchronization
to the sound of screeching metal

some pray,
others beg,
but all live out

their nightmares -
real or
perceived.

The Zone of Orphaned Humanity

Sliced open by his overgrown toenails,
the corroded canvas slip-ons
cling to his calloused soles.

Stumbling down 1st Street,
he whispers to every lamppost he passes.

Don’t forget who your children are.

Stopping to catch his breath,
he squints one eye closed
as his body sways
to the sound of silence.

Lifting his head,
he places a crooked finger
in the stale air and
traces the pattern of the steel
lattice towers that stand proud in front of
the distanced Los Angeles skyline,
as if he were an artist painting
the city’s visual pollution into existence.

Draping his body over the bridge,
he looks down into the city’s river
that he no longer
can baptize himself in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown // Water

It is brown above me, brown below me
and there’s so little brown around me
where the hell did these blondes come from

what sunless hole were these albinos born in?
This place is not safe for humans, clearly,
They are terrified to go outside
Or else sit in incubators to ensure their darkness
To blend in with the air and the sky and the ground
Below me and around me

And the sea is gray and gray and gray
With sealed-in surfers lying down and lying on shore
“You missed it, honey, that perfect wave”

There is a reason God stole the sky from the sea
And I lost the ocean
I lost the ocean
I lost the ocean
To this massive empty lake
With invisible islands
Of floating trash
Where I assume the white people come from

Where the hell did all these….
And can’t they see the world is brown and brown and brown 

I lost the ocean.

 

 

 

 

Settling

You tell yourself that you’re burdened by busy

A slave to the schedule

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

You tell yourself that other people probably helped

That he was already given a meal

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

You tell yourself he is an addict

He did this to himself

That’s why you don’t stop.

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You tell yourself you can’t trust him to be close

He might hurt you.

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

You tell yourself that there are organizations

To help people like him

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

You tell yourself that he has a group of friends

Just like himself

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

You tell yourself that he doesn’t seem cold

He doesn’t need your coat.

That’s why you don’t stop.

 

Tonight he is going to die

If you don’t stop.