GOING BACK IN TIME
When I was young
I drove to Salinas
And ran through the bean fields
Pretending I was James Dean in East of Eden
Drove to Monterey and walked Cannery Row
Imagining myself packing sardines in between
Midnight conversations with Doc and the boys
Driving to Carmel I scribbled a poem on a cocktail napkin
That later became the Title for my first book of poems
A piece of God’s country
But the rents were high and the job pay too low
So in 1964 I took a job in Modesto
Driving on weekends to Stockton’s public square park
To drink with the winos
In Crows Landing I drank with unemployed Mexicans
At run-down cantinas
In North Beach and the Mission District
I hung out with deadbeats and losers
street people fighting junkie tremors and cirrhosis of the liver
In the Fillmore I cut my teeth on jazz
Let Billie Holiday patch up my bleeding heart
In the Portrero I saw the last of the factory workers
Growing thinner like their paychecks
Fearing for their jobs
In the Tenderloin I drank with whores and prostitutes
Who opened their pocketbooks as freely as their legs
On Market Street I witnessed panhandlers crouched
Like criminals in open doorways
A short distance from the Jesus freaks
With God’s billboards pointing the way to heaven
At the old Southern Pacific Railway Yard
I saw the last brakeman smoking a cigarette
With eyes vacant as an empty satchel
While on the other side of town
High on top of Nob Hill society ladies sat
In chauffeured limousines
White poodle dogs nestled between their piano legs
Unaware of the dredges of humanity
Walking third and Howard Street
Drinking cheap port from brown paper bags
Starving cold disheveled as the homeless are today
Waiting on god or pneumonia to walk them
To the grave
go joe go!
she did not call.
and it shattered me
into a million dull segmented pieces.
myself, toy doll fragments.
boom! cra ckl ing
brain and heart bits thrown free.
a pathway to purgatory
after blindly chasing you beautiful.
i became a past trinket to dote on.
maybe a decrepit stuffed teddy bear,
the one you only convinced yourself you loved when a child,
now allotted to time when feeling nostalgic.
maybe a bobble headed, porcelain,
anatomically incorrect, (i am fat),
snot rag of a toy doll.
maybe legos she saw no point in building anything with.
she noticed me, told me of her absolute love,
then kicked me into pieces like an angry child.
anyways she is more than a silly barbie,
in my cranium. the synonym of the toys
synonymous with go joe go. an anti-still limbed toy,
her limbs multipixeled,
she was live
in the spaces of my mind.
the area i entertain
is only blank to her.
Transaction Taken from ‘Assault on Nature’
Night city of a million fingers of ambition,
beckoning to strangers from mysterious windows
concealing the sons and daughters of privilege,
surrendering themselves for survival.
Before the warmth of morning grins
a welcome to the fleeing stars
the city trembles from delicious dew,
devouring the offspring of the advantaged
distance and the humming,
a ghostly caravan,
silks, spices, jewels,
women full of babies,
they come, they come.
Who will greet them?
The vacant street blows dust,
the townsfolk make no welcome,
not me, not me,
doors closed to the invader.
They pass windows of rejection.
They cry loneliness of the road.
The men stand stiff with journeys,
full of yearning and shame.
Sorrow, moans the wind,
the unwelcome are departed.
It’s good to know that nothing changes here. The DJ plays the same songs on a Friday night as he’s always done and the boys still get drunk and fight and the girls still get even more drunk and cry and we all still dance together in the dark and I may have done things I didn’t think I was capable of and hurt people who meant more to me than I ever thought possible, but when I walk through this town I can still run into someone who’ll say “hey, man, how’s it going? You going out tonight?” I do love that and although I know that I should hate myself for my many flaws, when I’m with these people I just can’t do it. How can you feel like that when you’re in the middle of this sort of embrace? We’re all too part of something we don’t understand, so the only thing to do is to get another round in and perhaps someone else can get a few shots? And I know now that I’m not the person I always liked to think I was but is it so wrong to pretend for just a little while?