Sacramento St

The view down Sacramento St. aligns
today. The garbage bins like fences edge
the boundary of yard and street. Designs
of linearity are formed with hedge
and pepper tree, while arrowing ahead
of me recede the blocks of old concrete:
a stream of squares from white to almost-red
appear a tiled path beside the street.

I run an elementary exercise,
and try to witness everything I see.
Attending to perception from my eyes,
I plant the vista into memory.
So full existence is, my portion’s small
but too immense for me to see it all.



I closed my eyes this morning as I strolled,
and sought to sense surroundings without sight.
The air upon my chin felt clean and cold.
The chirps of birds were speckles on the white
of 8 a.m., and humming undertones
were laid beneath the car cacophony
by trimmers clearing gardens of the bones
of winter storms, while chippers ate debris.

I closed my eyes and walked with extra care,
alert to root upthrusts and pavement flaws.
My lips apart, I masticated air
until my tongue was dry and feeling raw.
I couldn’t taste today, but I could hear
and feel the world my lids made disappear.



I think some rabid fundamentalist
attempted to transmogrify my trunk
by prying off the ambulating fish
that named the Beagle’s passenger. To junk
my gentle symbol was a vandal’s aim,
but unsuccess was his ambition’s lot.
He cracked the back and modified the name,
and creeping “arwin” was the word he got.

This creature newly made appears to haul
itself beyond the fingers of the sea.
What walked before is now compelled to crawl,
and intimates with its tenacity
adaptive evolution striving more
intensely than it ever did before.

Street Work


At both ends of the block are posted signs.
The city workers wave the cars away,
while sewer experts drill through asphalt: lines
investigating how the waters play
that pop the uphill disks for overflow,
precipitating toilet paper curds.
Descending house by house they domino,
as tissues issue littering the curbs.

From 7:10 this morning until 4
o’clock tomorrow afternoon, they mean
to fix a chronic drainage problem, sure
in spite of history that they can clean
what’s clogging, lumping, clumping every week
the toilets flushing uphill from the creek.



A woken woman’s walking up the street
too early on a winter working day.
She’s hauled along by eager canine feet,
as ever up for exercise-is-play.
The woman carries coffee in a cup
that keeps it warm and won’t allow a spill.
She sips the brew intending to wake up,
in pauses as she climbs the gentle hill.

And then she arcs the tennis ball away,
beholds the flash of bounding muscled mass,
and marvels at the sparkle in the spray,
as dashing dewdrops splash above the grass.
Returning home, while yet the woman yawns,
her dog is grazing water from the lawns.

Oakland West (1995)

oakland west ladies

They must have once supported massive weight,
but now they rust a ribcage in the air:
the 17 old I-beams twisting straight
up to a road no longer hanging there.
Like dominos they stand – a rusting line
no finger topples – while the engines eat
among them, rooting-ready by design
to bite the steel that once upheld concrete.

As if a local custom set them so,
they might denote a message to the sky
that priests of industry have placed to show
the height of commerce, or to amplify
their mark, except that demolition’s planned,
and Naked Lady stalks retake the land.



Today I saw a cyclist in a suit,
and yesterday I heard three college kids
discussing dicks and brooking no dispute:
dimension matters. Decency forbids
me naming names, but just last week I caught
a glimpse of him and her in full embrace
who shouldn’t be together, and I thought
to stay unnoticed and avert my face.

I live where people walk. I often ride
the rapid transit railway, ferry, bus.
It seems my day won’t start until I’ve spied
on sixteen strangers, heard two couples fuss.
I’m caught by clothes or cadence, turned by phrase:
just marveling
at witnessing
these days.