38 Geary

Good morning to ya
O’ snakebottom girls
with your breath peppermint
smooth hair bucking
on this bus rodeo

your eyebrows plucked prim
and arching
to make sure I know exactly
how much you’re not looking at me

‘Cause my hair sticks up like a cock’s comb
and my eyebrows sprawl all over the bridge of my nose
and my breath smells like oranges

those impossible January oranges
that turn orchards into circuses
pregnant with sunlight
charged with a hundred tiny explosions of juice and pulp

I’m licking their memory off my teeth
and through the diesel grunts and plexiglass
the blue-white sky pours down into my eyes
so I have to set loose that fantastic whitetrash grin

You’re disturbed
Only psychos smile on the bus
But the smell of oranges disarms you

I want to think you’re wondering why,
and your eyebrow didn’t arch that high
So here you go:

‘Cause
I live a block down the street from a whorehouse
and the apartment across the street exploded into flames last night
and two kids stuck a gun in my face
and the cops stole my car last month
and I spent the morning chasing cockroaches
and I’m sick as a dog with a new brand of flu

and I remember

Tumbling with the Carneros wind down mountainsides clad in boulders and star thistle, never knowing when or if my feet touched the ground

Sleeping on a piss-stained sidewalk outside the greyhound station in San Jose

Finding the ruins of Caer Paravel hiding in the hills of my childhood & leaving gifts of ivory fish to swim in its sulfur springs

Hitchhiking hungover in Atascadero as the hicks rolled by crying fag

Filling mudstained pillowcases with stolen artichokes and feasting on the hearts with everyone I knew

Kissing hope and betrayal into dusty little Stockton girls fleeing from the fat sweaty fists of their fathers

Listening to redwoods hum down the Arcata mist as the thick incense of earth rose up to meet the rain

Finding only the dry stares of turkey vultures as I searched endless desert roads for the lost flowers of the California Valley

Making love howl across her bright skin in the rough windcaves of the Mojave

Smoking hilarious weed with demon-eyed gutterpunks out of a soda can on the Haight

Tripping over the cuffs of my scuffed bell-bottom jeans as the ecstasy left me small and mean in the wake of the LA rhythm

Teaching acidlaced cityboys how to sing the coyotes down from the backside of the Sierras

Running ‘shrooms north and south and finding myself caught in visions with a broken car behind a Ukiah supermarket

Drumming my heart out onto plastic buckets and tin cans as Hate Man chanted rage and tears up from beneath the Berkeley concrete

Sleeping with her with him with them sleeping together
leaving me lost in raindrops and smog

Watching him become her become whore become a kindergarten teacher
who whips money from fat old men as they sob passion

Straining against his weight as he dangled from my hand above the ocean cliffs

Catching her just before she tumbled giggling over the edge of the falls

Tasting bile while he wailed for death as I hurled him off the road to safety

Watching a shard of glass trace the veins of my arm
Puking blood and stomach lining into the toilet my first day of work
Tying my tongue in charcoal knots as the hospital clock shaved off second
after second
after second

Her cursing me Her cursing me Her cursing me
until I let go my hope

Throwing it away Throwing away Thrown away
until I let go my pride

taking blow after blow after blow
until I couldn’t breathe

without the rhythm of your fists to remind me that I’m alive

Finding friendship helpless in judgment
Finding love helpless in lust
Finding fear helpless in death
Finding that when I let myself lose, I live
to see a child rise like bright sunlight
up from the ashes of her parents

So.
Slovenly and sick and stinking of oranges
I have to laugh
at you, with you, at me, with me
that either of us could think I’d ever want to be

anyone

anywhere

else

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