Dreams About Women, III


It is untold when she will focus on me
in the cramped store with the mesh grate window gates
strewn with receipts and bills like a pawnshop

I put my fingers from my parents in the grate and pull
until the knuckles, peaks and valleys turn searing white,
the red tips point outward toward Soto Street

“I was in The Decline of Western Civilization,”
she says, “but I was only a baby.” She sells beverages.
Ginseng and Malta. It takes way too long to pay by card.

“I’m closing now.” Outside I pour it into a glass.
“King Taco” rotates above my head. Lumbering metal.
“Smoke,” she says, indicating the sewer, “al pastor.”

“Steam,” I say, perplexed, “it’s steam.” Metal,
tanks of sorts, great round things stenciled with
advertisements, lumbering past, floating past.

“…it doesn’t matter anyways,” she says, “this part
of California will be annihilated.” Yes. Sanity. Arm-
ageddon, voice of reason. “I’m from…” I begin, “from…”

Funny feeling. I look. The glass was chipped.
The lip. My throat. Felt. Nothing in particular.
But things can hide in your throat for years.

Phoenix Sorted Me Out


“Eastern people can’t believe they still do those things out West.”

I got burned by Phoenix, but it sorted me out. With my undisclosed doctorate, slouching about, talking in dark college halls of Godard and Brecht to laid-off truckers, starry-eyed freshmen, the rest. Friends, I won’t have to spend three months on your couch; I got burned by Phoenix, but it sorted me out. All the kids in their scenes, well, they talked a good game, all cured of disorders to endure them by name. And the sun it was hot, but I’m from a hot place. Burned through my plans for the summer all in the space of the time it would take to improve on your watch, nose in detritus of couch-dwelling sunspots. And I don’t think I’ll be here when blisters arise. Once burned by Phoenix, and it won’t happen twice.

“out West, drinking SoBe and Surge like ’90s pop suicide was murdered by a lover”

The bus Ok, so this is the desert
to you I’m required to cross
who I the risk
had not prepared for
yet met

it left Ok, so this is the climate
Phoenix I’m obliged to adapt to
at 10 extend the
and takes falling in basins
me south

it leaves Ok, so this is the Continental Divde
the last on a knife’s edge
truck stop in order and disorder
and I laughing and falling
am yours

“Eastern people can’t believe they still do those things out West.”

Watermelon in a Dry, Dry Place

Emery County, Utah.

People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.
When you crack open the melons or the tour buses or the truck stops the moistness comes trickling out.

The bus came via I-70, I-15 from L.A., the green Han character on the side packed together all the meaning which was visible on that side of the parking lot:

flow/stream; place + person = flags waving; to swim, to float, to wade…

flowing stream of swimming, floating persons wading through places of waving flags…

“TOUR,” it said. Damn it, Chinese is a fine language. Past that thick rind of recognition is all the juice of centuries.

“游”… from the oracle bones of the Shang Dynasty to the brush strokes of the Opium Wars to the refitted Greyhound bus with California plates parked in the truck stop across from the watermelon stand.

People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.
Have you ever seen a tongue preparing the lips with a perversely wet massage while the rest of the body dried and cracked and blistered under the Panama hat of a middle-aged father from Guangzhou? In Utah?
Thinking of the Cantonese watermelons, the Yellow River watermelons, all the watermelons of home, while his children browsed the Chinese-made National Park souvenirs and Native American toys in the air-conditioned building.

The thick rind obstinate, preserving the water inside for you.
Before we could tame deserts we needed to tame the melon.
People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.