Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Streets

National Blvd.

Making good time on my way to nowhere
I’m suddenly lost
(and this is not a bad thing)
at the intersection of National and National
bent to the perpendicular.
Some are in dread of you, National
how you’ve colonized the neighborhood,
claimed all four corners, violated the grid.
But I admire the way you meander;
a trickster, appearing and disappearing,
like a great idea that explains everything,
breaking the lineal sequential
in your fits and starts. National,
you are a mind that refuses to make itself up,
a contrarian paved in doubt, interrogating yourself,
hubris burning off at the stop sign.
You were the trail Odysseus took,
a cork on the wave following his nose into trouble.
Bless off-ramps and National Blvd.
where a man can leave the unrelenting
rush of his life and take a subversive turn,
meet himself coming and going and ponder
how once he was a Euclidean line
and now he’s an afterthought,
a riff on Charlie Parker’s sax,
broken-field runner, rider-less horse.
National, you are the fly on the still life
that won’t hold still the apple
that overthrew the bowl and bopped Newton.
The one Einstein ate. National,
Oh National, you are the twentieth century
drunk on lost causes, detoured dreams, down
but not out on the open road.

Where Everybody Drives Because It's So Empty

Psst. I love you, Walgrove
but don’t let it get around.
Such an alternate route you are,
so un-congested and heedless of lights,
I love your contours, your long stretches,
the way you rise and dip.
Maybe we should stop meeting like this.
People will talk as if I’m taking advantage.
If word got out you could be ruined,
trafficked by the young and the reckless,
choked by foul emissions and abusive honks
like those other mean streets.
And look how coy you are
starting as modest 23rd St.,
fifteen blocks east of Lincoln
and when you’re done at Washington,
re-named and re-born, in your mysterious way
which admits no impediment,
so stealthily and svelte you have slithered
ten blocks west. Walgrove, Walgrove,
Your name alone takes me away --
descendent of Walden Pond,
as arboreal as a grove of walnut trees,
so cerebral with two schools at your feet.
My own path less traveled,
the one that brought me this far,
stumbling but still on my feet,
Whisper to me, Walgrove, I’ll follow you anywhere.
Lincoln Boulevard

You are the north and south of us,
the missionary’s road,
before colonized by the car,
old sins paved over for new ones.
Ugly as a mirror,
beautiful as a Rauschenburg collage.
Lincoln, the emancipated street
conceived in liberty and dedicated
to billboards and signage
for paychecks cashed, hot videos,
palmists and thrift stores.
Whitman’s ear is listening hard
for bumper stickers singing.
O Captain, my Captain, turn away;
sprigs of lilac no longer bloom.
We’ve emptied the wetlands
in your name and filled the open road
with torrential traffic.
Lincoln, you are gasoline alley
thick with exhausted air.
Yet there are still some
who lean and loaf at their ease.
Salesman and surgeons mingle
at the Cock & Bull saloon.
A dentist stops a street vendor for a rose.
School kids with backpacks,
like day laborers, haul their load
and day laborers line the lumberyard.
The taxi driver keeps a screenplay
under his seat; the crowd scene got away.
Where the created equal eat
Sushi and Salsa, pad thai and pastrami.
Here is our body electric,
neon diners and all-night Laundromats,
Pollack’s drip and Ginsburg’s Howl,
clear as a dusted frappuccino.
You lead to the airport and take off
to Californificate the world..

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