The "Salsa Bar"

The Salsa Bar

they called it a "Salsa Bar"
but to me, it was a battlefield
from World War I
with hunks of flesh and blood and
scraps of carcass splattered
across an exhausted landscape 

they called it a "Salsa Bar"
but to me, it was a 5 year old's art project
with streaks of dry markers
haphazardly scribbled across the paper
and beads of glue with random macaroni
smashed into a series of nebulous blobs

they called it a "Salsa Bar"
and the sign said "SALSA".
but if you stood behind the sign
the sign said "ASLAS",
which stands for
Australian Society for Laboratory Animal Science

There were rabbits and mice minced to confetti
and surgical tools scattered among the dead
and the metal operating table
 reeked of historical nightmares
all in the name of research.

but still…
even with having read this document
to the management… 

they called it
a "Salsa Bar".


The Man at the I-5 & Broadway Exit

The Man at the I-5 & Broadway Exit

there by the exit off interstate 5 and Broadway Ave
sits the man with the diesel mind,
broken down on a milk crate,
grass in his dreadlocks,
trousers at his knees,
screaming on the outside,
shaking on the inside,
and being stabbed by invisible shanks
all over his body.

he is a reservoir of pure madness,
a stew of disorders, schizophrenia being
at the top of his recipe.

his wiring diagram resembles a thicket.
cables and plugs jammed into the wrong outlets.
voltage surging where there should be none at all.
a tangled mess of wires and braids,
leads and filaments, sparking and firing,
for no reason at all.

i imagine that
inside him are vast institutions,
where fires have erupted within their
hallways, lobbies and offices
and the patrons of these buildings
are now tearing each other a part,
screaming in agony,
destroying each other and their surroundings
in their vain attempts to escape
his mind.

i have seen him off and on over the past two months.
and he is always screaming
and chanting and twitching.
a machine of complete and total unrest.

he is so disturbed that
even in a place where the mad seemingly reside at every intersection,
the often apathetic and callused citizens of Los Angeles
take notice when they pass him by.

because this one stands out.

his skin is as black as licorice
and his eyes as white as ice,
bulging and fragile, like eggs.
rarely blinking and frozen in place
as if shocked awake
by an unseen predator.

there is no touching this man.
there is no communicating with him.

the motor to his escalator
broke its belt years ago
and sent his jagged stairs flying 
down, down, down
at a record speed,
down, down, down
where they finally
slammed into that recessed crevice
of mysterious light
deep below the floor.

that crack where the stairs disappear.

that line where most of us step over
and quickly walk away.


The Gnats

The Gnats

we felt like it was over
and suddenly gnats appeared in
our home
and they wouldn't go away

a commitment was made to remove the gnats
and move forward

but still, the gnats were there,
one in every corner,
by the bookcase,
near the window,
hovering in front of the television
like dust

we tried flushing the sink with bleach
and boiling water.
perhaps they were coming from the drain? the trap?

or maybe it was the kitchen?

we removed the pears
we removed the watermelon
we removed all the sweet things
in our efforts
to control the gnats.

but still, the gnats.

vibrating in the air
like gun powder.

specks of Sharpie dots.
flecks of black sesame.

always there.

the gnats.

and so, defeated,
we gave up.
we slumped over
and we waited.
and we waited some more.
and weeks went by.
and eventually, the gnats just went away.
and we didn't have to do anything at all.

the gnats just left.

and the air was clear.

and i assumed it was our patience
that got the best of them.

or perhaps our apathy.

or maybe...

we just stopped
the gnats.


Ditch Digger

Ditch Digger

I used to be a panhandle ditch digger
for the Contiental Gas Company.
At about 6AM I was dropped in an endless
field with no fences,
placed onto a trenching machine
that moved about 6 inches a minute,
and asked to drive miles over the
open country of Oklahoma
until dusk.

There was a lot of time to think
sitting out there.

The land is so flat
that if you stand on a soup can
you can see the shadows of massive clouds,
sliding slowly over the plains
like fresh, wet stains seeping into fabric.

I don't remember much concerning what I
thought about out there.

I only remember WHAT I DID.

I learned to juggle
dried cowshit.

I sang to the cows.

And occasionally,
I almost died
by trenching through unmarked, existing gas lines
or driving the trencher into rain-filled ravines.

It was fascinating being out there.
I cut my teeth and tasted
a life I could never commit to.
I moved through it like a strange explorer,
hired to study and
survey the local flavors.

But I don't remember anything
about what I thought about
while I was out there despite the fact that
sitting on that ditcher
by yourself
and thinking
made up about 90 percent of that job.

And I suppose that's an important lesson.

You don't remember thoughts.

You only remember your actions.

And you best be filling your life with as many
actions that you can fit on your plate.

Or you might as well dig your own ditch
and think long and hard about it

until you get dizzy.

and just fall right in.


the pizza bird

a lone seagull
in a vast and empty parking lot
standing there like an idiot
with a single slice of pizza
hanging from its beak
like a fatuous tongue 

we approached it with the van,
circled it,
and it took flight.

quickly, I hit the pedal
and brought us up to speed
to soar along side it 

and there i watched
as we floated together,
this rigid seagull,
frowning and gliding gracefully over the pavement
draping that perfect triangle of
greasy pizza
from its clenched nib,
flapping in the desert wind. 

the human race is so fucked.