Tag Archives: california

Jet Ski

It must be thrilling to not be afraid
of the sea, or else it’s nothing, like how
I’m not afraid of beach blankets, buckets,
all the stuff of the sand safely on land.
My deck doesn’t pitch and sway with the waves
except during occasional earthquakes,
when the dirt turns to water and the hills
are like high tides crumbling into the surf,
crashing down into the valley with their
white crest houses and sport utility
vehicles. Does the moon pull at the earth
as well? I’ve seen the wind kick up dust, snow,
but never make the Great Plains truly move.
If only I could swim the earth and sky.

California I’m In

California here’s you
As I know you
Rooftops, late nights, everyone

With a story, people claiming
Their name is Midnight
Wanting their story written

It’s always a movie, the bars
The art, every waitress
West of the freeway every

Waitress north of orange county
With headshots and a treatment
Every loft with a renovation

On promise, every short film
With a chance for my big break
And a free cookie, every Craig’s list ad

For a new and barely used sofa
And a roommate in the valley
Or a poolhouse cabana but please

No smoking, a yoga mat rolled
Under their arm and a joint
Rolled under their breath

Wanna get some air
And a free magazine in the lobby
You probably have to pay for it

Soon and parking behind the building
With the chance nobody’s aware
These parking guys are there

Charging for parking
And a traffic cop on the Metro
And none on downtown streets

Purple- shirted city patrollers
Turned life counselors
For the endless homeless

And beaches that stretched
Into beaches and parties
Where corn chips and salsa

Made it know this was their turf
And a beach fire and a sun tan
And a frisbee and a jeep

Surfboard optional but at least
Know how to stand up bro
A spare couch to crash upon

And sometimes spare surf boards too
Usually a story of how you got out there
Or else a story of how you were born there

Or grew up there or moved there so long ago
You can’t remember anything
Anything but the glow of the tans and the smiles

You can’t remember anything
Anything but the ocean, the ocean, the ocean
As the waves roll in, that’s the state of California I’m in.

17 months

You’re too young; you won’t remember wriggling in your body, hugging my neck hard with those pretty, fat hands, giving kisses and showing us the food you’ve chewed up before you swallow it. (We delight in this; yes, we are those people, laughing at one child’s antics in a restaurant.) I’m leaving you–aunties are meant to leave for a while, go to other countries, come back with strange scarves and foreign chocolate as presents. But there has never been space between us, you little one, and me, and not between me and your big sister, the careful, wise child to whom I cannot even bear to say goodbye. (Beauty mark. Inner wrist. You have my whole heart.)

I’m going away. Moving, over land-land-ocean. How will you get there? Your big sister asks. Airplane. Luck. With thoughts of your small faces and easy laughs in my mind.

Be good, littlest niece. Jump in the Fall leaves. Grow as big as you can–I’ll bite my tongue not to say “don’t get bigger”–and show it all off to me when I come home to hold you, soft, in my arms again.

As to you, California redwoods, sunshine, ocean, and city fog: we’ll ride the days out together as you’re in my veins, pumping my blood, moving me forward.

California Rises

In the twentieth century
California had bursts.
No steady incline of New
York or Chicago, in the
Days before skyscrapers

Bronzed homemakers
Sold from old photographs
Of palm trees cast across
The skies in sunset’s
Orange race gold-panners’
Dreams into hearts of
Heat-stroked Okies

And dust-coated folks
Whose wheels turn states
Into history with the coast
Of empty tanks anchored
In the fumes of beaches,

And one century later
It’s silver screen’s
Fame-trumpet that
Reaches appetites dying

To win this national
Game or retrace the
Sunrise to the place where
They came. California,
You hope-creator,
Generation-generator,
You awaken
American Dreams .

 

The eight crazies you meet in Santa Monica

I saw eight interesting people in the last hour in my town. Seven of them were crazies. I can’t wait to put them all in my book.

The first – the only one who might not have been crazy – was an oversized bulldog of a man, 5′ 11″ and 200 lbs, who wore blue jeans, scuffed white sneakers, a white shirt and a Yankees cap with a flat brim pushed slightly to the side. He had blue eyes, lost in the fat and his stubble, and he listened to a personal radio. He held his shoulders pushed forward; he was mute, but walked with purpose, fueled by rage.

The second – the first crazy – was a man in his fifties, with tan, leathered skin. He wore a yellow polo shirt matched with plastic blue shorts that did not quite reach his mid-thigh. He wore sunglasses, though it was cold out, and white tube socks pulled up to mid-calf, a style that has been unpopular since the day those socks were invented. On his feet he wore New Balance sneakers, once white, now muddied and black – why has the muddied once-white New Balance sneaker evolved in the popular choice of today’s hobo on the go?

The fourth and third were an item. He: black wool cap, black leather jacket, black pants. Black sunglasses; hair flowing and orange and coupled with a beard, he looked like a vaguely Irish-German hobo Jesus, on the prowl for drugs and miracles. She: an Asian girl with short black hair shaved down and spiked, save for one wave that swelled from her left temple and crested across one side of her skull. She cradled herself in a red shawl, which stretched just below the waist of her pants that hemmed just below her ankle line, giving way to a patch of skin on her open-top shoes. She had a neck tattoo – surely, it was inspired by a previous boyfriend’s in the same place, a piece of skin art that she undoubtedly loved to snuggle up against and lick – and a matching one on her foot, same side as the neck tat and the sweep: left side.

Number five jogged across the intersection like a stiff-backed, handicapped gazelle-man centaur. It was like a computer approximation of striding with back straight and knees reaching up toward Jesus. He was Asian, in glasses, in his forties or fifties, wearing white slacks and a blue jacket and looking very recently removed from an 80’s comedy role as a stereotypical foreign tourist.

Numbers six and seven dueled for supremacy across an intersection. Six: the brown woman. Jacket, blouse, pants, even open-toed sandals all in various shades of brown: ecru, mocha, chocolate, taupe. So creepy. Across from her, the carriage lady. She pushed her things in a pram as though her torn rags and trinkets were a baby.

The eighth, and most aggressive – the craziest crazy I met – ambushed me in the parking lot of my apartment building, where he’d stolen my space. He couldn’t wait to start talking to me about my new car, which, yes, is nice but the way he comported himself – damn. Hands always going down to his pockets, where he pressed his palms obviously against his hipbones. For the pleasure of the sensation? I’m not sure, and I don’t really want to know if I do happen to be right. He spoke animatedly, never leaving a half-second’s break in conversation, and took the ball and ran with it to bring up all sorts of digressions and stories-tied-to-stories about his life that never left me a chance to steer the conversation toward, “Nice to meet you, good luck; I’m leaving now.” He also sucked loudly on his spittle when he talked – and this was not an old, drooling man, he was either a post-drug abuse late thirty-something or a forty-something – which was distracting, gross, and made me think that he might carry a knife. Not because he looked to use it, but because he’d be beaten like a mouse more than a few times and was ready to stab somebody if things got too crazy. Or the pink elephants came back.

The Truth is In The Bottle

Alan shifted groggily as the first ray of sunlight slipped through the cracks in his blinds, its luminescence clawing at his eyes. A threat to face the day. As with any afternoon like this, he thought he would roll from his left side to his right, his body a sodden, rotting log, curved like an “S” that somehow insinuates cutlery, but when his left arm tried to lead him there and shield him from the sun, it was faced with some resistance. Not much, but still enough to startle his body to a slightly higher form of consciousness than that booze-induced coma he was in. He aware of his flesh, and his flesh now aware of its surroundings, Alan felt something sleek and smooth, cold and curved, held tightly against his body like that terrifying clown he used to cuddle with as a child. What was his mother thinking when she gave that to him, anyway?

The crack of dried saline and gunk compounded with the thudding in his head as he peeled his eyelids up, opened just enough for him to make out the shape of things beside him: an empty handle of Evan Williams bourbon. He’d crammed enough forensics knowledge into his head during that semester that even despite the horrific hangover he was still able to deduce that said hangover was likely due to the presence of said bourbon absent from said bottle and even more likely being processed somewhere between his liver and soul. Content with solving the mystery of the missing bourbon, and discovering the identity of the mysterious shape asleep beside him, Alan felt accomplished enough to complete his turn away from the window and fall back to sleep.

He closed his eyes before his bourbon-slowed mind could fully comprehend the significance—or even the presence—of the used condom sprawled on his hardwood floor like the sad and lonely shreds of the balloon that Jesse Hird popped at his 6th birthday party. Not that Alan was bitter or anything. The thought of this childhood trauma was finally enough to shake him from his slumber, and Alan sat up more abruptly than he likely should have. Blood rushed to his head with the thud of an angry fist against an oak door. Or maybe a baseball bat.

Once he was able to think again, Alan realized that perhaps the night’s conspiracy reached deeper than he previously thought. Especially since he was still wearing pants. Was he living in an episode of Californication? Alan had always idolized David Duchovny, but more for Fox Mulder than Hank Moody. The X-Files was his inspiration for moving to Washington, D.C., and pursuing a Forensics degree, in hopes of one day becoming an FBI Agent, and discovering for himself if the true was really out there after all. But if life should imitate art, he wondered, then perhaps his life was changing along with the career of the artist whom he imitated.

This threw him into a panic. A crisis of faith. What had he been doing with his life? He had only ever seen the Series Premiere. He would have to catch up on all the seasons on DVD. How many seasons had there been so far? The X-Files had nine! How many more would they have by the time he caught up? And when would he find the time, now that he had to leave George Washington and transfer to some school in California to pursue an English degree. What the hell was he going to do with an English degree?

For a moment, he wished there was still bourbon to drink, but the mere thought of it made his stomach churn and sent him hurtling towards the bathroom. Perhaps Californication would have to wait.

Happy Birthday Buffy!

Sometimes when people share birthdays, even decades
Apart, others try to establish some kind of astrological link, a
Rudimentary sameness, attempt to discover every possible
Attribute those shared-birthday-holders coincidentally
Have in common. That’s dumb. Just because Anthony

Michael Hey-Remember-Me-I-Was-Chevy-Chase’s-Son-
In-National-Lampoon’s-Vacation-And-Was-Great-In-The-Breakfast-
Club
-But-Then-Disappeared-For-Most-Of-The-Nineties-
Hall has the same birthday (but five years
Earlier) as Adrien Brody, doesn’t mean that their entire
Lives will be paralleled. Ok, so they’re both actors, match well with
Libras, happened to have been born on the
Eastern Seaboard, wanted roles in The Dark Knight (AMH

Got one, actually, sorry Brody). So what? Do
Either of them cartwheel around Sunnydale, California,
Looking damn sexy in their miniskirts, stakes strapped to their
Legs, out to kick some vampire ass? Psssssh, doubtful.
Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Adrien and Anthony were
Really into Freddie Prinze, Jr., and pregnant with his child.