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August 26, 2012

Walking In - 8/1/12

Walls of purple Bougainvillea and broad Date Palms
Hydrangeas in white, pink, and purple
Sidewalks turn into stairs and keep climbing up and up towards Coit Tower
Tourists speaking other languages

Now down cool twisting narrow brick staircases in the shade of Monterrey Cyprus
Terraced gardens of ivy and Impatiens
Now the Bay Bridge in late morning haze
Green leafy, vines strangling pines

Cruise ship so close there on the Embarcadero and gulls crying as tugboat struggles to keep it together
Workers lounge beneath the jungle canopy when they should be working
Now, legs quivering I see what I'd suspected all along
I'm in horrible shape

Girls in tights bounce up and down the stairs all around me like spring bunnies
Sweat rolls down my chin like a river
It is, at most, 60 F
Tourists with maps and cameras and I cross the street for no reason
Just to see the other side

Now Ficus trees and Red Gum trees and I think bout the gardens
All those flowers I'll never have a name for

I emerge from my trance at Broadway and Sansome
I'm here every day on my bike but now I don't even recognize it
By foot its a completely different city
It swells and grows like a water balloon

Now I see parks and stores and nooks and alleys
Things you can't see at 40 mph on one wheel

Tourist mom, head down into iPhone, leading the way like mother duck
Brightly colored kids follow pulling suitcases like a row of ducks,
oldest to youngest in perfect single file
Is this not the way?

It's like you're looking at a Stone Age fossil
A wisdom evolved over the eons
A pattern so well tested it crosses species and eras and epochs
Men push their women before them into restaurants,
as a buck lets his does pass before him into the ripe, open fields
No shots ring out
It is safe

Vendors setting up for the lunch crowd
Honda generators humming quietly on sidewalks
They're made in Japan because we wouldn't listen to Deming.

Spectacular morning
Bicycle couriers smoking in the shade with steel calves and iron lungs
I don't even look anymore when I cross
If you wanna hit me come on
If I died right now I'd die happy.

Walking to lunch

Plugged into iPhones, people walk without seeing
Arms folded in the cold afternoon sunlight
Long queues at restaurants
Countless cameras and hammered police cars rattle down shattered streets

diesel buses push deep clouds of pollution into the toxic city
Battered bikes, stripped to the frame, but irretractably locked to the city's skeleton, rust in the poor city air

Only now do I realize that I can process a crowd of faces at a glance
How odd to have this ability but never use it
I can process 50 faces a second and never even knew it
I've been so afraid to look people in the eye that I never knew I had this feature
But now, as the fear falls away, I'm finally learning who I am

I am much more myself today than I have been in a long time
I don't really care what people think of me any more
That paranoia is gone for good or for ill
I've suspended my beliefs and the entire idea of trying to fit in

I just sort of wade into the melee dressed like I'm a photographer in a combat zone
A homeless encampment at Market and Spear
Stupid useless commie protestors beating that tired old commie drum
Smooth polished streetcar rails
Outdoor market at the Embarcadero

I'm looking for parrots but only see
Seagulls and albino pigeons
The Embarcadero is the front line of the pigeon/seagull conflict
The homeless smoke weed and collapse in the shade of Date Palms

'The olive groves will set about piercing your bones,
unfolding their most ferrous of roots in the earth,
embracing men universally, faithfully.' - miguel hernandez

A tourist parks and pulls a melted sleepy child into the hopeless hell of the mid-day Embarcadero
This is what people call Jackson Square or Jackson Park
It was also called the 'Barbary Square'
But the square is officially named 'Sydney G. Walton Square',

But there are no parrots here
Guy says to try Corona Heights

Fat tattoed ugly women smoke and wave cigarettes under their off-springs' noses
I want to drown them in the bay

I like jaywalking and do so frequently just because
I hate the cops, the laws, the entire system of bureaucrats that sets the pawns in motion
Broken hobbled fractions of people hobble down the city sidewalks

Only now, as the fear fades and leaks away into the city sewers,
can I begin to see the city for what it truly is

Only now can I see the city's ghastly beautiful soul
The city is an ancient crumbling stage for poets and dreamers
the healed and homeless
The beautiful homeless urchins
The rotten stinking rich

The city is what it does to you
A vortex that sucks in children and parrots and dreamers
and spews out a chaotic storm of angst and fear and piping hot death
beneath the wheels of a thousand screaming firetrucks.
An overexposed snapshot

A horrid grainy nightmare with no sign on the building to warn others away
A hobbled broken spirit in a perfectly healthy body that the doctors just shrug and turn away
Rest my friend
Life is a story with no beginning and no end on only there is the middle that we must wiggle through like sidewalk worms...
like mudcats in a summer drought

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 26, 2012 at 6:03 PM


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