Shoved deep into the bench seat of an old Ford truck we found a kitten. The bench seat, like a black sofa, leaned against the chicken coop. We used to play house and pretend outside was our living room. It was dead, of course, the kitten, you can't stuff a body, no matter how small, between the stiff cushions of a Ford bench seat. Other animals had been found, recently Cats, kittens, chickens, a mouse. They said it was a coyote or a fox but how can an animal stuff a kitten into an abandoned black bench seat? There was that day when... A porcupine attacked the dog. The dog howled in screams as men pulled her from the truck. It wasn't a porcupine that killed the kitten. This needed human hands. We ran home to tell our mothers. We climbed over split rail fences, through dead and dying orchards. across old rail tracks that once transported swine, beef and grain, but now the trains were ghosts and the rails vanished into the dirt. We reached the farm house, the white peeling paint revealing rot. We'd lived there, but not long, two families without fathers, and many kids. Sometimes men would visit. Some fathers. Some not. They'd bring beer. We were out of breath from running. We heaved and pressed our palms against our knees. Ma! we called. Ma! It's dead. A kitten! we called. It was empty. There were no mothers. No fathers. no adults. Stapled to the door A pink paper. Animal Abuse it said. The animals were all gone. The dog with the porcupine quills. The cat missing kittens. The puppies. The chickens. All gone. A dust kicked up around our tired feet. The pink paper waved in the breeze the tape held it to the door. A car was approaching from the distance. They would take us next put us in foster homes send us to strangers. Soon we forgot all about the kitten.
Category: First draft
First draft of a poem from the paper to the posting.
It's been years words can't escape if they never arrive
I miss them
A Day in San Francisco, 2013
It's a balmy day. And I
start at the Chinese consulate
in Japantown and walk
to North beach near
I carry the same obsession:
"All this walkin' is gonna make a writer outta me. Gonna make a writer outta me, cause experience makes the writer—"
cirrus clouds interrupt my thoughts,
writing makes a writer
too high to grasp,
but I notice them.
"I see you", I mutter.
2. 16th street
"Click-clack, click-clack"- my shoes go click-clack.
He calls out to me, "Click-Clack! Click-Clack!"
I wanna stick it to ya- Click-clack".
Straight to the point.
A tongue shoots bullets from the mouth
of a faceless stranger.
I'm hit in the back
I stagger, but not fall
I can not fall.
I. must. keep. walking.
Click-clack. The sound of
my high heels on pavement.
They are not that high, not sexy, not askin' for it;
(no one ever asks for it)
sophisticated shoes, classy shoes; Danska's
for Christ Sake! Nobody whistles at Danska wearers!
Skirt stops at the knees- but it don't matter-
lady don't matter.
meow, kitty, kitty, here pussy,
But he didn't say pussy, pussy-
he said, "I'm gonna rape you
so. hard. till. you. bleed."
I keep walking no matter
I don't run. Don't let them know you're afraid.
how much it hurts.
Feet, hurt. heart, hurts. soul, hurts.
How old does a lady gotta be before it stops? Kitty-cat-cat-calls.
50 maybe? 60 maybe? 70? Then no more click-clacks?
She Still got it?
Waiting for 60.
3. 18th Street
On the corner of 18th
and Church. There is a park and a muni stop.
Madness sleeps on the grass. Breathing corpses.
The sounds of city; horns; chatter, breaking glass, shouting, more…
ricochet against my ear drums.
So. Right. On. Sit on the street corner and wait
for the time to pass.
A beautiful clear day
-did I mention that?
warm with a cool breeze, and
screams from the park.
The corpses remain still in the green green grass.
Below the blue blue sky…
I hate it when people disappoint you!
I hate it!”
He is yell-yelling. A lost man is-
He is speaking to someone no one can see.
“I hate it!
They disappoint you and then
you lose trust! I hate that feeling!”
Yelling. Lost man is yelling at the green grass, the blue sky, the corpses, at God, at the universe. Lost man is upset, but not at me,
I am invisible because he is invisible.
Lost man throws luggage with broken wheel at muni.
Can I get an Amen? I think,
staring at my click-clacks.
I don’t like the shoes anymore
they remind me I am not safe
in heels. No one is safe in heels.
4. Corner of Grant and Vallejo
Ham and cheese baguette, iced coffee.
North beach bitches.
San Francisco beat, renaissance bitches;
bitches are gone and dead.
There are still regulars here.
Man to the left is typing long sentences on his type-writer computer. Man on right speaks with woman, both have computers.
I. have. note. book. like. cave. person.
His publisher called: The
Man on right. Man on left scowls.
5. Coit Tower
The city is obscured by trees.
Parking lot staircases lead to
Greenwich and Telegraph hill. Tourists are everywhere:
The French are traveling today
with two ll.’s. Travelling.
I think: Je suis American.
Je ne parle pas Français.
Je comprend un peu.
I say: nothing. Rien! Rien!
A family cuts in front of me in line.
“Attends! Attends!” Map carrying father yells.
All stop. all wait. Pappa says go.
6. Again, Cafe Trieste
Ed has lived in San Francisco
in North beach
since he was four years old.
He’s an old man now.
Things have changed, oh yes, they have changed.
This is the place where Francis Ford Coppola
wrote the God Father- there are photos to prove it.
Chinatown surrounds old little Italy, yet,
Little Italy no longer lives here.
When was it little Italy? I ask.
“Cafe Trieste was open in 1956,” Ed says.
“two years before On the Road was published,” Ed says.
“The Year Howl was published.” Ed says.
The year after Joyce Johnson’s
Come and Join the Dance was published and forgotten.
Ed doesn’t mention this.
She was a click-clack-clackity-clack-kitty-here-kitty
7. The Beat Museum
Brandon works at the Beat Musuem.
“The women are the forgotten ones.
Abandoned wives, neglected children.
Did you know it took a paternity test
to prove that Jan Kerouac was really Jack’s
daughter? It shouldn’t have taken a test-
her face was enough she looked just like him.”
Baby driver took a diver
over the wine and qualude valley.
“His only family in the end was his mother and his wine.” Brandon says.
“In the end isn’t that all our only family?” I say.
He half laughs. Only half.
8. Coit Tower Deux
The French clog the hallway parle vous-ing at the Murals of the farming industry of California wrapping around the interior of the tower. All part of the works project- to create jobs for artists during the depression when farmers faced the stock exchange of 1934 till we reach the elevator and sardine in order to see the view.
From the top I look down on pools and patios.
the fog is rolling in over the golden gate
from off the bay. time to descend
I’ll take the stairs.
Steep stairs from the Coit tower parking lot
take me past secret gardens of not so secret apartments with
hanging gardens from the poets of the technology revolution.
I want to sneak into the private gardens of Telegraph
At the bottom
White Angel, where one woman
fed the hungry, the tired, the poor,
from a soup kitchen:
bring me your longshoremen, your lumbermen
I will shelter them from the storm,
we live on skid row.
I look back up toward Telegraph hill
no one is starving up there.
They starve in places where we don’t have to look at them anymore.
To the Alcatraz! The sacred rock
Hopi prison- escape from
Bird Man- Capone- Al Bird- Clint Eastwood
all dying to be free
buy your tickets early
this ride is sold out.
11. To all the Piers I’ve loved before:
From 1 to 45
To the wonderful machine mechanical museum
Where games from over 100 years join
modern arcade games in a fun filled
love story of entertainment
meet such games as “Shoot Your Wad” and “Toothpick carnival”
12. Linger on the Pier 2
In front of Sinbad’s on Embarcadero
the sun sets behind tall buildings
streams of light shoot
runners run passing like runners running at sunset,
no one kisses, anyone, and the cold wind blows.
My blue scarf wrapped tightly around my neck
temperature dropped, and I look at the scuffed toes of
my click-clack Danskas, and try to forget 16th street.
San Francisco breaths, I breath, the sea breaths
the past breaths, the present breaths, the future
holds its breath.
Welcome to the Farm
Welcome to the Farm
It’s hard to argue with them…
because they never listen.
To them you are
the composition of yourself is like a static fabric
exhausting only in the mind and apprehensions of other people.
You are rendered down
like animal fat and poured
into something else;
paint or glue
until there is nothing left of what was originally you.
People tell you: You are collaborating, You are now a part of a collective and community. But how is this so when your only contribution was as a part of the experiment, but not part of the process?
You were processed
— and here we come back to meat.
Some of us are slaughter.
Think of the pigs, drunk wearing human clothing, and eating the meat of their fellow animals.
Do you remember them? The pigs? The other animals? Staring through the twilit windows? Their animal jaws flung open in awe, and bewildered in shock- as if they, as if we, didn’t know what was going on all along.
We, you, I, he, she…they… no you…the collective us and them… we ignored too much.
We all clap hands
and we all fall down.
Through the window pane I watch them eating.
I see them through the sliver of silver curtains
that sweep the floor like ball gowns.
Everything is perfectly color coordinated,
and new born babies coo like doves.
I stand here day and night
through every season
Frost bitten in deep bitter snow
or sunk into hot August mud.
I can barely blink at the life
in front of me.
I watch their children grow,
the new and old marriages,
vacations planned, bought, and taken,
baseballs tossed, ballet slippers worn,
baking and sewing, building and crafting,
visits from their relatives, in-laws, divorce and death,
(not necessarily in that order)
the family life.
Through the ages I’m watching
other peoples’ lives.
If only I could turn around,
toss my envy into the compost
beside the perfect houses, and turn around
to see the many roads that reach out into my own horizon.
There are other paths
I know because I can feel the sun
on my shoulders, urging me to move,
and turn to face an uncharted future, but
my eyes are glued to the Norman Rockwells, and the
The instagram of domestic paradise