Hope pervades in all things. There is hope that things will work out the way we want, hope that things will be different. There is hope in the satiating of addiction and hope that the cravings will end.
Sometime overnight a black van parked on the side of the road outside of work.
With the hood up they stumble in and out of the side door. A vacuum of silence howling from within. They sit in the front seats under phone glow and frosted windows.
Before the morning’s light a man scrambles under and around the front bumper, back and forth, then back into the van. A battery charger lies on the ground under the van. Inside the cab of the van a lighter flickers.
In a few days time you’ll show up for work and the van is gone, in its place scattered needles and trash. Off to continue the search.
—If hope is an ever available commodity, why then is it so valued?
Her Face a Song
She came to me. Like she knew that her pain and my guilt were forces meant to be joined together. A magnet, she walked right up to the window and locked eyes with me. She knew the guilt, the shame, that my humanity and hers would conjure up. Years of smokestain in the cracks and folds of her skin, sunken mouth and a pair of lonely brown eyes like the mouth of a tunnel. She was silent but her face sang me a song.
On the return, a moth fluttering in the back-light of a streetlamp, between the fingers of needles, then just over my head. A happen chance glance that changed the entire course of my fluttering mind.
Under a dense grey sky, under the gas station canopy, a black girl wonders, sentences collapsing at the edge of her lips. She’s wearing a rain jacket with the hood partially up over the back of her head. She has legs that are like matchsticks, legs that are barely there, waiting to catch fire. She’s holding everything she owns (everything she needs), cantering around in syllables, she yells to the fungus soaked maples, something about want or need. From behind the broken down cars (or nearly broken down) parked on the side of the building a white girl comes out, fiercely walking, full of intention, her short hair in a short tail, shaved on the sides. Her flannel shirt lifts in the drifts and kisses the undersides of her arms. Short shorts so short it’s like she’s wearing legs, flicks her cigarette and walks passed the black girl -with hardly a look, and she thinks something about wants or needs. The gas station remains empty, territory claimed.
On the drive into work I’m urged forward. And there’s an urge in my chest to do more. To be more. Then I feel saddened by my lack of ability to change things, to move them forward, to shape them how I want them.
On the loading dock is a bag of scrap metal. A homeless women, an addict, wearing a safety vest, with a pink mohawk falling to the side, she eyes the bag. She looks around to see if it’s safe, she doesn’t see me, though she looks right at me. She looks in the bag and decides it’s worth the take. As she starts to gather the bag in her hands, twisting it, figuring out how to get leverage enough to lift what is certainly too heavy for her to carry, awkwardly leaning over, tattooed legs, white bruised thighs, her skirt riding too high, the bag snaps. The scrap metal spills out, clanking on the pavement. She walks away looking over both shoulders with the top of the broken bag still in hand.
The raid happened swiftly. Under the cover of night where the moans and groans would be a little softer and the insolence suppressed by the tremor of wakefulness. RV’s lined the street sandwiched between an industrial park and rail yard. The police ushered all the campers out of their RV’s, took their names, or whatever form of identification they could get, and politely told the squatters they’d need to find somewhere else to go. A young loner gets escorted while he wails about his plight. The cops turn up some opioids from his den. If they couldn’t move their vehicles the city would have them impounded. By then the grumblings and the protestations of the campers were drowned out by the big rigs hauling in the bollards, tow trucks arriving, and the crew setting up floodlights.
By early morning city sponsored trash bags filled with things, which were already once discarded, then picked up with a hope for some future purpose, fill the empty space behind the concrete bollards. A tent had popped up sometime in the hours between and a social worker would be onsite by mid afternoon. Amidst the emptiness in the air is the sense that perhaps all of this amounts to only the amassing of things. Regardless of social status, the only thing we can all be said to be doing is collecting for some greater future.
At the freeway on ramp
The seagulls stand fifty yards
In front of the homeless,
Both beg for scraps,
The homeless man stands
Without a sign, palms up,
Missing shoe, maybe a smile,
Stands under a sign
That says Thank you _________?
For trashing Seattle.
I cannot look either, the homeless man, or the bird, in the eye.
Pasted to the ground.
Anticipating new beginnings.
I saw the little Asian lady
in her car again
while I was walking the dog.
tonight, she was still awake.
Usually she’s passed out,
or sipping cold noodles,
and sometimes she just stares
at the steering wheel.
I don’t want to exactly
look, but I can’t quite look away.
Because when I look,
I only see a shadow
of the little Asian woman sitting in her car.
Parked under the yellow
streetlamp haze she’s
frantically checking the rear view mirror,
her eyes darting
now she is gazing out the driver’s side.
She’s been beaten.
Paranoid. Completely fried.
Her senses overworked.
I slowly walk past,
Passed her passenger side window,
all I can see is the picture of a person
reduced to primal,
responses from a species
we can no longer claim to be.
But still I walk past.
The Dog Walking Page