for Stephanie Right across Turk Street, south side intersection Hyde, in the tenement where 911 won’t summon up a blue, a man beats his woman, the twentieth time or more, their kids bawling. Over here, in this flat up on the third, above blazing red neon signs highlighting the Triple Deuce Club low below, I listen while wired white hippies move furniture across checkered tiles other side my sister’s arched plaster ceiling till way past 3 a.m. Shuffling with a sofa as if rearranging the heavens in my mind. Me, I sleep. Or try to. Nothing else I can do. Each day I slip off and out looking for work, gliding into the Streets of San Francisco winding, curving, like turbulence. Daybreak brings sweet Cambodian street children out into a Feinstein-era playground, still filled with hypes, winos, yellow-green from the night before, still smelling like piss and lizard. These kids though, they climb atop steel swing-set bars, fifteen, twenty feet high, as if they’re walking joint lines in concrete. Easy balance, Mohawk grace. Their sisters provoke a paper war in the street, closed-off block party. Paper flying by, I catch a piece, fold it origamically, create a mock financial pyramid, toss it back, watch little girls with black shiny ponytails make confetti for this ongoing ticker-tape parade, right across Turk Street, intersection Hyde.
First Morning Poem
for Nancy Morejon
DC, Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2008, Adams House Suite
In a room facing chimneys
over the place Nancy Morejón rests
between sleeps lining free lines
she whispers to hearing DC:
Obsidiana, Vilma en Junio,
Un Gato Pequeño A Mi Puerta.
Morning is birdsong
in an old Spanish town.
Though the chief
in his acquired misery
echoes Kenya until he breathes
life into malady, or at least compels
us so to believe, she sleeps with
Africa, Canton, and other points slavery
turn Cuban in her bone breath
bringing love, embrace, freedom from
whatever holds the rest of us in weight.
The lifting is simple, yet
without it how sad we all be.
Yet here she is!
Sugaring our boughs before we break.