the desert ponds are still there
and creased linen cloth hills, bushes trickling down the valleys
forming seaweed pools
against the sand of west coast poetry
a Santa Clara valley of fever dreams
soft mountains too bright to look at
and beyond somewhere the roaring pacific
still speaking to you?
towards a sprawling Los Angeles,
and long smoke sunsets
my eyes dripping with red nuances
instead of the mouth
and so many crossed out words
where you would have none
women do wonder
mumbling prophets of hillside avenues,
what is the question because I forget.
wild haired and gloomy eyed, strange
following suits with a side to side walk
and hands cupped as if around a secret.
pregnant and broke and without vision. homeless women of San Francisco, do you see a city of lights or monsters of corners, downtown skeletons,
the bad blood in the valleys.
the city grows from marsh ground beneath my feet. I leave trails on the pavement.
the forrest nymph wraps herself in clean sheets, she can’t breathe and she screams of relief
until plastic structures vibrate and collapse
in perfect squares of chaos.
I pass blocks of cracked sand and glass crystals, mountain towers and halls of moss.
unclear lanterns in the sky, disguised by fog or smoke from the fire eyes of
outside red painted bars,
all waiting for the final fall.
an old homeless man spat at the back of my friend’s heel in Rochester. the streets change from one end to the other, an America of diversity in every sense of the word. extremities, extreme bodies, extreme poverty. an unhinged atmosphere like obscure glass fibres of destruction in the air, invisible but everywhere and silently digging into the walls of your throat. freedom is a clichéd American catch phrase, but whose freedom are they proclaiming? most people we met couldn’t afford a passport.
our destination: nowhere places built for the purpose of motels and petrol stations. the backside of America plastered with numbing highways, escape routes? what lies beyond the isolated island of sharp skyscrapers, gigantic mirrors cutting down the sky… beyond the transience of New York, bright lights and the PR-related affluence floating around in half-hidden bars in Brooklyn? it was raining when we left Manhattan, tears pouring from the holes in the sky, from freshly cut up cloud-wounds, drowning the streets and flushing last night’s shame off the pavements. traffic lights trickling downtown through the gutters.
we got on a bus to Albany, NY, and admired the scenery of a stolen land, taken and turned into roads that continue to spread all over like expanding asphalt tentacles. [in another semi-dead town we went to the local art gallery and discovered an exhibition devoted solely to The Inner Loop – the surrounding highway. we looked at paintings of traffic signs, roundabouts and road turnings, not knowing whether to laugh or break down and die.]
Kathy Acker says it’s difficult to get off the roads in America.
Albany is ghostlike and grey, eerily quiet like the opening sequence of an apocalyptic zombie film. sleepy homeless eyes watched us getting lost among derelict churches of the apostolic faith and fort-like FBI buildings. dragging our damp suitcases behind us we wandered through empty, identical streets, feeling the out-of-place excitement/paranoia numbing our insides as if something bad might happen. distanced from the situation like it’s an illusion, a construction on a screen.
a man began following us, big-bodied with a funny walk and a cracked loud voice, slightly insane. our panic grew and in desperation we hitched a ride with a stranger wearing pilot sunglasses and a black cowboy hat. he invited us to one of his blues gigs but we politely declined, bought dinner from a nearby petrol station, barricaded ourselves in the motel room and turned on the TV. windows locked, curtains closed, we fell asleep next to each other like three sisters on the run from a repressive community of Twin Peaks-like strangeness.