Long Weekend Shorts


Thursday afternoon at a quarter-past-three
G and I, we shot out west on the I-40
to California.
Drove the high road for a change,
sunset in our eyes,
turkey and avocado sandwiches in our laps
and gasoline
three dollars and seventy-nine cents a gallon!

The Milky Way never so fresh, a spray
of soft white mystery and we’re part of it
blasting down the smooth highway
past new neon, tractors and two-syllable towns:
Amboy, Kelso, Ludlow, Barstow.
(Didn’t notice Needles, still reeling
in that greenriversmell that came before.)

El Sereno is serene tonight, we’ve got
uninterrupted Mozart streaming in
and steaming Earl Grey at midnight
all the way from Sainsbury’s.
My best girl Rachel’s at her desk; I’ve lost her
to law school. But between kid-art and kitty TV,
cheese & these crackers, this jar of pepperonccini’s,
I’m good, I’m full. I’m home.

At breakfast with Jack I notice
he’s whiskered like I’m freckled.
Over omelettes, waffles and bad coffee we pingpong
between his new screenplay and my first story.
You know, I still love Kerouac, I admit.
His flow and the panorama, his observation.
That’s benzedrine, Jack says
as the waitress slides the check.
Outside on the South Pasadena sidewalk
he gifts me a fine old hunting jacket, velvety pigskin
the color of Malibu sand and lined
in tomato-red satin.
It doesn’t fit me anymore, he says.
I bought it with John Huston
when I was shooting Escape from Alcatraz. It’ll keep you warm out there
in the mountains.

Heading home along the high desert diagonal,
a freight train in the distance
is a beaded belt
wrapped round the hips
of the mountain: white, rust, red and blue.

Ocotillo alleluia, unblossomed in October,
the longest green arms outstretched up, up, up
and pointing east
towards the peaks, pointing back west
towards the dark ocean, reaching this way
and that. Home is here
in this blue pickup on this quiet highway right now,
my daughter’s head on my lap and her dreams
rising past me and blown out the window
to drift between the night sky
and the earth like dandelion, whooooosh!
Home is here
and home is behind us, home
also waits up ahead: the honey jar,
the clothesline, our books and cats,
the well-made bed.