Leaving the airport with its grounded
planes turned out to browse,
across the fields of concrete
ringed around with mirrored towers,
we move on south. Beyond blue veils
of an exhausted air, we come
into the lion-coloured hills,
their shoulders mangy with the sun.
Along the road, small gatherings of
brindled steers stand all the day
in folds that open from the canyon,
pulling at tufts of burnished hay.
A gimcrack belvedere looks
over slow decay of whitened
villas, jostling on hill tops where
they vie for shares of ocean light;
pink condominiums, elaborate with
cracked balconies and archways, range
like a stage-set, where off-duty
women saunter, looking their age.
We reach the dereliction of the shore.
Taking for granted prodigal blue skies,
here, thriftless children of possession
live in reflection of each other's eyes.
NOT EVERY DAY
The quiet guy, grey beard and dreadlocks,
- when he came whispering his order
to the girl behind the counter -
it was the way that she already seemed to know.
It's like a phrase you pick out from
a not quite eavesdropped conversation,
or the face that seems to come back from
lost memory, from some fragment of a dream.
The languid woman who is maybe
ten years older than she looks,
turning the pages of her book
the way you'd deal cards off a deck.
It's catching at that ragged edge
of things, where you can see the glossy
facing starts to peel, the overlap
of surfaces that don't quite match.
But then it isn't every day
that you see someone crying on
the train - or, at the very least,
not every day you notice.
Beneath the jetties and the dock-side buildings
there are deep occluded places where
the waves' last energy is spent, slopping
against ranks of pillars with a watery noise
whose echoes travel back through far recesses
of the cavernous gloom. Nobody goes there.
Boatmen on low-tide craft will likely see
no menace in its functional depth. Maybe
a gull floats under, on the swell, picks up
some traces of the unscoured flotsam, waste
coagulating slowly in far corners,
over the smells of weed and barnacle.
From time to time someone must need to go
with flood lights, checking for rot of concrete or
corrosion of old steel; but otherwise
this is a space untenanted, for all
we know, a void to the imagination,
washed daily, even from figments of our dream.
Here on the hill, the sorted couples lie out
on the grass in all varieties and look
across the city toward clustered towers
and sunlight on the distant bay
while others try to meditate, or sleep,
play music poorly, and the bad dogs
frisk among the pooches, maybe
to the chance entanglement of owners.
Beneath the stucco and ceramic
of the mission tower, rustle of breeze
through wishful palms, go hobos wheeling
loaded carts beside breast-feeding babies
This parent sets his infant on the swings
to push one-handed while he checks
his phone. That smart young couple hide
behind big books, as if denying sex.
Here on the hill, you won't sit long
before someone goes past, with or
without a cart, Stop me and buy... and
t's not always ice cream being
Here is a place to pick up clues,
trade information, learn the score.
Newly cut loose, the kids in jeans
and painted jackets can assemble here
trade tips about survival, how to
maintain a toe-hold in the city's weft;.
to feed each other pizza and talk loudly
about movies, music, where they slept.