After the Lunch Hour
He lets me off at a busy corner in a city still strange to me,
but home now on days when clouds hang low.
The motions are simple ones:
my leg dropping down onto pavement, the lifted coat hem
so as not to catch the car door, the slam, the wave goodbye.
An act so familiar that I forget we live far apart
and he is here for a few days then gone across distances
I see only on maps shoved in the glove compartment.
The light signals it is okay to walk
and I remember that we are not alive forever,
as the cars and skyscrapers and asphalt would have it.
I turn to tell him this, to rush back to the seat beside him
but he is already gone, and the light, changing again.
Driving home tonight
I see a hitchhiker
at the end of town.
He sits on a lifetime
packed into his suitcase,
arm extended, thumb pointing south,
Where brazen glare of highway lights
ends, and I-40 continues on into endless
prairie, his life unravels
in wind I create as I pass,
a loose thread in darkness,
bit off from the rest, offering
frightening acts or accidental gifts.
Headlights spray across
fleeting outline of his figure-—
in the large black buttons of his overcoat,
in the leather straps of his English suitcase,
hard black coldness of coal
in his boots and a sad wisdom in his unshaven face.
He is the pupil
who has stayed after school
the rest of his life,
to write loneliness and love
on the darkness,
with the chalky pumice of his heart.
—Jimmy Santiago Baca
pismo beach motel
the parking lot next to the beachcomber inn, where we are staying, is almost full on a friday afternoon
we drove up from l.a, to Pismo beach yesterday -- left at 10 a.m., stopped at summerland for lunch arrived at 1:50 p.m.
we made love in the afternoon walked on the pier ate at rosa's watched tv & fell out at 10:10 p.m.
out the motel window i see a truck with "pacific seafood" printed on its side a boy,, with a surfboard balanced on his head, walking toward the ocean beginning of the pier the blue pacific
this afternoon i walked in the ocean my wife & i love the west coast she sleeps, her head & left hand & forearm visible
harry e, northup