Posts in Category: California

The hope at the end of the year

I wish I could say
the end of the year
will erase all your pain,
make disgraces and crimes disappear,
kill the hatred on sale two-for-one at Safeway,

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flood the streets with winning lotto tickets,
give us the heart to be ourselves,
let us forego religion in favor of reason,
and install a second faucet
on everyone’s kitchen sink

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from which flows on demand
the finest Belgian chocolate sauce.
But that’s not going to happen.
America won’t get fixed,
won’t be America,

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won’t be great or even passable,
until people like these,
good people,
sweet people,
American people,

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are no longer sleeping on
concrete pillows on the streets,
seeing bullets and unicorns in their soup,
and eating manic-depressive tacos
from the labyrinths inside flaming dumpsters.

(Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California, December 2017. See my other work here and here.)

The decent thing on Ocean Avenue

A few weeks ago in San Francisco, I had just left my favorite comics shop and was in my car about to turn south onto Ocean Avenue when I saw an old lady had fallen to the concrete on the public transport platform in the middle of the street. Before I could pull my car over and jump out to help, a young man had already reached her. As I watched I knew I was witnessing newsworthy decency, and felt like I was seeing San Francisco write a song lyric about itself and the kindness built into the way this city moves.

And so from my car I saw the young man render aid to the fallen woman. He was gentle with her and handled her firmly but without aggravating her obviously fragile state…

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Then he helped the lady get her legs back under her, and reclaim the clearly-necessary cane that had somehow failed her in the first place. While this happened drivers passed by oblivious, not necessarily out of callousness but because San Francisco is a body and it’s sometimes hard or risky to step outside one’s place in its street-artery flow…

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When she got to her feet, the old lady checked her hands for injuries while the young man stood by to ensure her well-being. After a few moments the woman stopped trembling and stood firm but relaxed, which in turn caused the young man to relax. When I realized everything would be okay I started my car and finally turned south onto Ocean Avenue to continue my way home…

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All of this happened literally within the space of 15 seconds. I checked the time stamps on my photographs to be sure. It was a hell of a thing seeing the kind of small but powerful human episode I’ve only read about in the news or seen dramatized on TV. But this is the way we orbit each other, and sometimes need’s gravity pulls us closer together than we would ordinarily prefer because there’s a life to be saved or changed for the better.

It’s how we’re built, thankfully, and I’ll remember that and celebrate it even if this kind of decency never unfolds before my eyes again.

(On Ocean Avenue @ San Leandro Way, San Francisco, California, November 2017. See my other work here and here.)

Encounter at a taqueria

Reflection in a Japanese restaurant

I often look into mirrors

to view worlds we don’t normally see.

This woman in my world, for example,

at the next table over in a Japantown restaurant,

she was pretty and she was beside herself.

Relections in a Japanese restaurant, Japantown, San Francisco 2017

“That’s a great literal use of that phrase,” I thought

as I went back to eating my katsu curry.

And as I did I hoped

the woman in the mirror world

didn’t reach out and touch

the woman in my world,

as this would surely throw both worlds

into dangerous chaos and flux.

(Izumiya Restaurant, Japantown, San Francisco, September 2017)

The Sky

It rained a little bit this morning.
Not much,
just a few enlarged drops,
smacking the hood of my car.
Just enough rain
for the sky to
let the Earth know
that the Sky can kill it
anytime it wants.

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But the Sky keeps the Earth around
like that coaster on the dining room table,
the coaster you got in Vegas
when you were just drunk enough
to win $100 on video poker.
It cost you $200
to win that $100,
and that’s how the Sky feels about the Earth.
We banish it
and frustrate it
and fill it with
our piss
and our vinegar.
The Sky is not our cloud atlas,
(The Sky really hated that book)
and it is not the take-away menu
at your corner dipshit combini.
The Sky is
your beauty and your love.
The Sky is
the only way you’ll ever get to Mars.
The Sky is
a chest of drawers full of only bright things,
marvelous things,
things of silk and satin and Japanese whimsy.
The Sky
is your mother
and your father
and we are rather cross with you right now
and need you to knock that shit off.

American dreaming

An older gentleman dozing in his van while a summer breeze animates an American flag and the late morning sun illuminates the multitude of second-hand clothing he had for sale at the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco…

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(Alemany Flea Market, San Francisco, California 2017)

The man who laughed t‘ai-chi

On my way to work this past Monday, I drove past an older man doing t‘ai-chi exercise by the side of a particularly busy street in South San Francisco. I broke several traffic laws turning my car around so that I could pull up to the curb in front of him to take a photograph. Luckily, I got to him just in time to capture this exuberant expression.

I’ve looked for the old man each subsequent morning since this encounter, but haven’t seen him…

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(Hillside Boulevard near Lincoln Street, South San Francisco, California 2017)

I’ve been seeing red

I don’t know what it is, but the past several days I’ve been noticing people who are dressed in red. It’s pleasing, but odd, as I typically never consciously emphasize any particular color when a scene has caught my eye and I decide it’s worth a photograph. Perhaps it’s my subconscious manifesting the abundant anger I’ve been feeling about my wife’s recent medical traumas and the death of my cat, among other things.

Nevertheless, I take photographs to celebrate moments in life that appeal to me and that you might also cherish, or at least find interesting. So here’s some glorious red, though the color is not so glorious as the people wearing it…

Kinetic Red, Webster Street @ Fell Street, San Francisco 2017

A woman crossing Webster Street while Fell Street traffic zooms by in San Francisco on March 28th.

 

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An stylish youth in Geneva Avenue traffic near Mission Street in San Francisco on March 29th.

 

NYC attitude at a South San Francisco Safeway, California 2017

At a Safeway in South San Francisco on March 31st.

(San Francisco and South San Francisco, California 2017)

Destination suggested but still unknown

A scooter at midnight during the war

Down in San Bruno, California
there are renegades and vampires
running gun and overrunning every street.
There are always women in the crosswalks
shepherding their invisible children
to non-existent schools.
These women drink hard liquor for no pay,
because that’s their little piece
of The American Way.

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Their husbands and wives are all off at war,
there is always a war,
and they never know where the war is,
who the war is against,
or if their husbands or wives will ever come home.

This just in:
The Defense Department and Bar and Grill
just announced nobody from San Bruno, California
is on active duty in the war.
They lied to their wives and went drinking
in the next town over for several months
because their invisible children
are easy prey for vampires,
make too much noise when they die,
and they couldn’t face it.

San Mateo Avenue, San Bruno, California 2017

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