Monthly Archives: May 2001

Back From Holiday

Wow, where ^have^ I been lately?! Oh, I remember… Portland and San Francisco!
In case you’re wondering, I had a fabulous time, and I want to move to Portland! It was like the Twilight Zone- everything was beautiful and clean, the people were all young and friendly, and the sun was always shining! Of course, that last one is a strike ^against^ it in my book, but since it’s normally a very rainy area, I can forgive it for staying blue while I was visiting! *grin*

Anyhoo, the trip was great, I have a lot of nifty journal entries to sift through, and a lot of fine memories to last me until I can get back up there. Brandon’s wedding was neat-o, and they both seemed happy. San Francisco was just as dirty as I left it, but Haight-Ashbury is still a great little neighbourhood- the Red Vic is still there, and we ate at a punk-rock New York pizza joint. All in all, a splendid trip.

Of course, once I got back to work I discovered that PacBell had suffered another of their famous screw-ups, and our Internet access is cut off until at least 9th June! What about the e-mails the company depends upon?! Hello?!?! *sigh* I hope someone is fired for this one.

‘Mission Motel’

Memories of the motel we stayed in during our stop-over in San Francisco, 29 May 2001.

‘Mission Motel’

San Francisco Mission
    Motel
Broken neon name on cracked plaster wall
Ring once-
    bell summons night attendant
        little English
Cheap room,
    clean sheets on dirty mattress
Walls
    four walls, white
    spidery lines of dust engraved
Carpet bare wore ‘neath my toes
The sink
    it’s old and slow of drain
In the mirror is a man
    broken
        on the road home

‘Chinatown’

On the way home from Portland, Robin and I stopped in San Francisco. We wandered Market Street, the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 39), Haight-Ashbury, and Chinatown. This is from that walk in Chinatown.
Unlike my other day-lost/year-saved poems, this one actually -was- written in May!

‘Chinatown’

Chinatown         San Francisco
The streets are crowded and dirty,
    a cool breeze tempers the afternoon sunshine heat–
        clear blue late-May skies.
I hear seven languages in as many city blocks.
People moving up and down, bargain–hunting in tourist trap this area has become,
    looks less an ethnic enclave and more like a swap meet.
Vendors are everywhere– they accost you at random, hawking exotic clothing,
    elephant tusks,
        herbal remedies,
            cameras and luggage.
Busses and taxicabs, the mid–day madness lunchtime,
    ‘Cisco natives crowd restaurants and shops and sidewalks–
        the tourists spill into the streets, no–where else to go.
Bums and beggars work the crowd, dirt smeared on beat faces,
    and dead hearts pass them by; no money, no time.
Jack Kerouac Street–
    an alley in Chinatown.    Strangely appropriate,
        nothing down it but graffiti and dumpsters and more bums,
        rubbish and old crumbling walls.
    San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News blowing,
        blowing down that alley, away from Chinatown.
I follow those papers, and that puff of clear wind, out of those crowds,
    down to Market Street–
        more crowds, men in suits and women in crisp skirts
        and more busses going by–
        that noon–time rush more acute here than in Chinatown.
Businessmen and waitresses, cab drivers and homeless,
    all move heartless silent oblivious down dirty brick sidewalk,
    past great glass buildings and Niketown
        Starbucks,
            Virgin Megastore.

‘China Stag’

This is a very accurate description of the night before a friend’s wedding. I long resisted posting it, but since he seems to have disappeared (we lost contact some time ago; long-distance friendships aren’t easy for me), I guess no one will mind. *grin* Incidentally, this was the single worst strip joint I’ve ever seen, but he was a tame fella anyhow, and we found it on a whim (hmmm, probably my suggestion that we look for one, though…).

‘China Stag’

The night air is crisp
  Jazz on city streets
Chinatown           Portland
‘Magic Garden’ lounge
    B. feels frisky
after a few drinks at ‘Kells’
  Irish pub         music
    cigars and dancing
We walked the streets to Chinatown
    and this club
  inside is small
    one billiard table
      one dance table
a false blonde is moving to bland
  metal
we grab seats & drinks
B., and B., and I with my Foster’s
    front row
      hands on drinks
  pockets of dollars for the girls
The first finishes and the second
  appears
much cuter         brunette
    tattoos
      nice hair
She smiles, and Björk begins singing
  I am immediately impressed-
    difficult music to dance to
She follows up with Tori Amos
  and Tom Waits’s ‘Singapore’
“…you must say goodbye to me”
B. and B. are enjoying themselves
  Three friends are bored
I am deeply amused
The drinks come continuously
    Foster’s for me
The two dancers alternate
  I wait for the brunette to return
    with Tom Waits
Three friends leave
Three stay ’til closing and stagger
    back to the car
B. is happy
  this was his night
Chinatown streets are empty
    and quiet
We talk of old times
      and new
  memories to last lifetimes

‘Wedding ⁄ Reception’

This is from the ceremony that followed the previous night’s revelry, as documented in ‘China Stag.’ As usual, I was bored (I dislike weddings, bah, humbug), but was asked to be in this one, so I stood in my rented tuxedo, and was semi-sociable.

‘Wedding ⁄ Reception’

The wedding was short
    Tuxedo itched
People smiled, happy
    Bride cried
B. was nervous
    Good nervous
I stood quietly
    And watched

Reception was long
    Tuxedo itched
People talked, excited
    Bride posed
B. was happy
    Good happy
I sat quietly
    And waited

‘Wild Boys Running’

Portland, Oregon, 24 May, 2001. Walking near the Willamette River, just outside the Yamhill District, watching the boys run, playing.

‘Wild Boys Running’

Wild long-haired boys run
      eagerly joyously
      down 3rd Ave.
      Portland, springtime
Loose flower-patterned shirts on
      hairless backs
      flopping sandals
Park grass pulls them along
      trees shading
      hot day
      afternoon sun
Past red-brick sidewalks
      sparse lichens
      old park benches
Main Street to the end
      Willamette River
      dark muddy slow
      old riverboat watches them
The sun beats down through a
      clear sky blue
      no clouds
The boys keep running
      the day mustn’t end

‘Portland Waterfront’

Portland, Oregon, 24 May, 2001. Walking near the Willamette River, eyes open, insatiable, trying to take everything in at once.

‘Portland Waterfront’

Standing on the waterfront
    beside the Burnside Bridge
    deep green of the Willamette passes lazily below
Along the walkways, crowds enjoy the afternoon sun
    shirtless men
    old folks in Hawaiian shirts
    women, flowing skirts, grey blue red
    long beards, long hair
        exquisite diversity on display
A traditional paddlesteamer moored beside
    awaiting passengers,
    head full of steam, decks full of men
Frantic activity in the grass
    preparations for a carnival
        The Rose Festival
Tie-dyed shirts and reefer madness floats smoky
Pink bikini top heaving breasts
    small blue glasses
    long brown hair         gorgeous
Ship after ship, bridge after bridge
    the river is crowded with steel and glass
    and green life flows within and without
Old town Portland is here, along the river
    brick and concrete crowd the waterfront
    Yamhill Historic District
Façades from the past become park monuments of the present
The original firestation is still here,
    a small museum inside
Clashing styles in one particular building
    Corinthian columns on the three-storey brick edifice
    neo-Classical, old New York
The world’s smallest public park
    in the middle of SW Front Ave.
    the site of an old utility pole
    Mill’s End, home of three flowers
        and a leprechaun named Patrick O’Toole
Muddy water swirls around pier poles lapping splashing
Portland is alive mysterious deep
    full of secrets and pleasures
    sadness and joy,
        sunshine and rain

‘Small Coffee Shack In The Centre Of The Street’

17 May (mein Geburtstag!) 2001, Santa Monica; but I changed a few words when I found it in 2002. Incidentally, 2002 (and ’03, for that matter) is missing many of its poems; forgot to carry the journal most days, so when I wrote anything I promptly lost it, just like the bad old days.

‘Small Coffee Shack In The Centre Of The Street’

Small coffee shack in the centre of the street
    Santa Monica, Kalifornia
Crowds of beautiful people file on by
    men in narrow ties and pleated trousers
    women in tight skirts and tasteful make-up
Some pause by the tiny café
    attracted, no doubt, by the heavy scent of espresso
    the sweet lingering aroma of coffee beans in the cool night air
My mocha is ready-
    (this café makes a superiour mocha)
I put down my pen
    close my book
    and sip my drink as the beautiful people continue by

‘Old Lady On The Street’

Watching a homeless woman on the streets as we drive home from Santa Monica, 17 May.

‘Old Lady On The Street’

Old lady on the street
    picking through garbage,
        looking for a bite to eat
    living day to day
    no hope for the future
    no place for her children to visit
    no healthcare,
        clean clothes,
            safe drinking water
Newspapers flutter in the breeze
    past her shopping cart
    can she read them?
    a handy blanket they make,
        on cold nights in the city
    but that’s all
    nothing worth reading, anyhow
        no one cares
On a bench in the park
    she tries to sleep
    children laughing on the grass behind her,
        but she doesn’t look up
    tired, hungry, lonely
    she sits and watches the cars go by
        cars go by
            passing her by

‘Outside Again’

Sitting in my flat in Long Beach, sorting through old papers and scattered fragments, listening to some old poetry readings on the Hi-Fi, suddenly the bug bites me and the following is hurriedly scribbled in my journal. I know, pretentious-sounding bullshit, right? Yeah.

‘Outside Again’

Spikes of light stabbing through the darkness,
  electric torches illuminating the starless night.
The lonely red-brick building at the end of the street;
  my rooms are inside.
Dank, dusty, years of neglect, months of silent lucidity, staring at the ceiling.
Cool breeze from the open window;
  a grey cat sits on a pile of old magazines;
  my notebooks, scattered around, papers everywhere.
Too dark to read the page, too tired to write the words.
My eyes closed, I can hear my breath echoing in my chest.
My fragmented mind is buried in these dusty journals,
  hidden in a closet,
  out of sight, out of reach.
I have little enough left these days.
From the street outside:
  a child crying;
  a muffled conversation;
  a car receding in the distance.
Outside again, I set my sights on tomorrow, and place my back to the wind.