Hardware store comforts (we still love it here)

Cole Hardware on Cole. Showing that same old man a bulb I need to replace in my glass chandelier. A specific little teardrop, must be a proper name for it. Ohhh… that there… that bulb’s illegal. Can’t get ‘em in California no more—that’s gotta go straight in the trash. Really? Really… When? Year and a half ago or so… Man. I only just bought these up at Goodman’s… See shops were only allowed to sell their remaining stock. He pointed at an LED bulb twisted upward like a fake flame with four neon orange rods visible inside… Awww… The aesthetic… just so much nicer with the older bulb… I agree—you driving to Nevada anytime soon? I mean… Why is California so annoying? I’d remove the ‘why is’ and leave the rest. Where do we go? Nevada… Texas. My mom’s in Texas. Next time you go, fill a suitcase and post up out here with a sign: ILLEGAL BULBS and you’ll sell out quick. They really think this is gonna save the environment? They’re in the moral right? Who’s making more money now? Ohhhhhhh——they’re in cahoots! He rattled off on the energy companies and the state. Something about keeping money in California. PG&E and another acronym starting with a P. I dunno. It’d be one thing if the sincerity was real. Well, shit—thank you. Shaking heads, sighing, smiling. Thanks. See ya later. 

Maybe 5 minutes?

Re-taping the nearly flying away A4 page on the green street light base. A voice from behind. What are you advertising? I thought I was in trouble. Uhhhh, it’s a call for poetry submissions… Are you a poet? You’re too young. You don’t have the fire in your eyes! I stared. He stared. Studying me, he seemed to question himself as the words left his mouth. HA! I almost thought. No, no—I publish. Ahhh. Here it comes. At first hesitant, too inquisitive. Who’s your favorite poet? Alejandra Pizarnik. Alejandro? Alejandra. Pizarnik. From Argentina. Hmmm. But what about: names names names names. I barely kept up. But could complete a couple titles on the tip of his tongue. We began to like each other. Animation increased. Comfort rose. He caught his dad reading in secret the Henry Miller he scolded him for reading. I just read Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Ah, yeah, but the one—Tropic of Cancer—he hated. Jane Janette! Jane Janette? From France. Existentialist. Janette? Janette. Genet. Jean Genet. Never heard of him. He was born a criminal, but man! He didn’t study, you don’t want to study, under these people in English departments who got turned down by publishers. That one guy at USF. I went to USF. You know that one guy? No, I wasn’t in Creative Writing. Took poetry with Zapruder though, and music history with Thiam. You see, I went to the MoMa recently, a friend gave me a ticket, very expensive, and this woman was trying to guide me and interpret the art for me, are you kidding me?! What could she tell me?! Yeah… you gotta get it straight. Genet read two pages of Proust and scoffed: I can do better than that! Ha! He was an antisemite, but the writing, it’s different. I brought up Knut Hamsun, Growth of the Soil, his eyes lit up: NATURE! Yes! Yes! You know di Parma? Diane? Yeah. Yes! Incredible! She just died. Yeah, recently, huh? Yes. Thomas Gunn? Uh, no. You don’t know Thom Gunn!? No, no… sounds somewhat familiar, but… not ringing a bell. Ahhhhh—you must read him. I saw him on Haight and Cole, at that cafe, back when it used to be something. Now, it’s nothing, just runaways, after that one girl—the mayor of Chicago’s daughter—came here and made street life cool. Once, back in the day, I saw the Hells Angels and Hare Krishnas on Haight get in a fight. Guess who won? The whites of his eyes, laughing in interrogation. My face grimaced back, I knew it wasn’t: Er, the Hells Angels…? Nope! The Hare Krishnas scared ’em outta there. Those massive bald guys! You know that woman who writes the stuff they sell even in the supermarkets? At Safeway and what not? She lives right here. She asked the city for 12 parking permits! 12 cars! Her books are trash. Ah, pop stuff? Yeah, pop. She lives in Paris half the year—you don’t want to hear about her. Charlie pawing at my calf to go. Names names name name. It became harder and harder to keep up. The accent stirring away. Trying, nodding, ah yeah… I’m from Ethiopia. Ahh, super cool. He looked at me like I hadn’t a clue about Ethiopia—I don’t. Where do you live? Right around the corner… Okay! Come find me at Cafe Oasis, I’m there most nights, I live here above the laundromat. Okay, I’ll find you. I need a notepad next time I see you… Yes yes yes. I’ll give you some books. I began to walk up the block as he turned to my puny sign and held out his pointer finger: SUBMIT YOUR POEMS: spectrapoets.org ❤ I shouted from behind, I’ll give you a copy! He smiled.

Un momentito en el Ciudad de México

Zigzagging an empty room. Tracing low ceilings with fingertips, confirming ease of reach. The man before me palmed a lightbulb as we glided through. “Tu pasaporte.” Stamp. “Gracias.” Arrived. Her surprise. Hugs and cries. Then out. That same burnt smell. Quiet arteries of a city, meeting at congested joints. The whites of his eyes stared at me, paced, as I ordered my morning coffee. Three aproned women stood up to shoo him away. “He said you’re beautiful because of your blue eyes and I am not.” A foreigner again. Hidden sugar. Expanding bodies. “He asked me if I was gay… Apparently being over 30 and skinny in Mexico means you’re either gay, or… not living, not married…” Inhalations that choke. Blue toilet water. Fabuloso and Glade plugins. Hives across my neck. He accidentally ran over her foot outside the Casa Azul. Quite a lot of stuff for a communist. Heavy Suburban doors. ¿Bulletproof, por que? I never close it tight enough. A smiling man with long hair in a VW van—full of dogs. Coyoacán. “I went to school there for a year, then they kicked me out.” Down the street from Cortes’s mansion, and La Malinche’s. They must have been fucking. Shivers at the oldest church in Mexico. I touched its wall. I don’t know why. Mezcal. 80s MTV, a cantina where grown men sleep. Huitlacoche, escamoles, caldo de res, elotes, tacos. Up a 1930s elevator, through a hall of agave and aloe, onto a rooftop terrace, an orange sky + mountain view. Some beers, some cocaine. Good people, good conversation. She’s escaping European lockdown. Lived in Berlin her whole life, but still, says they can sniff out her difference. Her high cheekbones, the in-tact femininity. A further East scent. “All the women in my family; PhDs in leather mini skirts.” Then into the tiny penthouse. Full of herbs and handmade clothes and trinkets, two busts, from a friend who passed, towers of books, an AR-15 in the bathroom, or was it an M16?, toothbrushes in an I ❤ BERLIN mug, frames collected from all over the place, without intention, recklessly/beautifully. In a small circle, calm. Everything we need for now. I shared a leather chair with her as she trimmed her herbs. We spoke about lineage, sexuality, past knowledge, pain, the chaos of the modern world. What led to this. “Eventually, a future generation is just going to go absolutely bonkers again, orgies and everything.” “The kids today aren’t even fucking—-maybe their kids then.” “It’s going to be a fiasco.” I’ll be back in a few weeks.

poems for Pedro

I

it crept

II

taunted by my submission,
hopeless sin love,
I smiled it awake.

III

“almost done”
( ^ nope )
said the woman to the men
carrying the tufted leather couch
to the top of her
glittering
highrise

IV

he took so long to come
but now every capillary
is red and pulsing

V

can’t imagine seeing you
without words
I would want it

VI

everything breathing

VII

she is all I see in an eternal orgy
her face faces eyes
while he’s in her
he, a mystery
but she is me

VIII

he was beautiful
he’s still in me

IX

seashells he brought for me
stained with my ankle’s blood

X

it’s just
sun on a page
until you look away at another man
with a suitcase

XI

as soon as I drank him,
I went into a trance
and knew exactly what to do
oh no my pages run up quite soon
didn’t know he’d take up so much space

XII

let
the
bug
go

XIII

everything else
the ink leaves out

XIV

slowly
he took
his time
with me

XV

doesn’t matter
what I do
it will go

XVI

he wouldn’t want to rush anything
all these weddings around me
a man sprints past
a woman poses
a boy in Doc Martens shamefully stuffs
a plastic checkered picnic blanket
into an overfilled trash bin
a little girl screams
“FLOWERS!”

XVII

all the leaves
I can’t collect or recollect
still fell

XVIII

two men on their way
with a gallon of cooking oil,
preparing love

XIX

eye contact with a skater
as he bombs the hill I climb
it’s all happening in front of me
while I’m busy writing it down
XX

back through
the same alley I entered
of course I can’t breathe
with my nose plugged

XXI

he gave me a poem