He pulled over first chance he could.
He had in mind the following.
Jotting them down like this:
Long Beach, Compton . . . the coast road waiting
Santa Ana: Aunt Juil dying; with Cathleen in the house smothered in heat
Pasadena: Jinny Ruland’s car delivered,
she drove us downtown to catch the bus
San Diego: Lafe driving Betty and me to Tijuana
and all the way on Tres Estrellas de Oro
to Mazatlan, then Mexico City,
John Friel joining us in D.F.
At first in the ex-convent where the vice president of Ralston Purina lived
and we too once their daughter greeted Friel and his friends
Later the Cuban Embassy, Hotel Ibero;
the round trip ticket cashed in near the end of summer,
one marriage over
Wilshire: Space slicers Friel called his hard-edge canvases,
Frank Stella later making good on the cut of the canvas
Venice beach: Friel said he was all right in Brooklyn but Tokyo
no, he couldn’t forget her touch, its warmth
Macarthur Park: Juan alone, the bums cadging smokes
(When Friel suicided the Stella paintings appeared as though in homage)
Wilshire to Fairfax and back: Juan walking a night off
to buy and bring home Paz’s Labertino de la Soledad,
the last copy in LA
LAX to SF: with Betty, Juan committing to memory
"The Second Coming"
They are herding our hearts down freeways.
The architects of American say
This is how it will be in another century:
We will join with armies of geese
In the cities of weeds,
Living on grass, in love with our own dung.
An Episode on the Floor of the Sky
Driving Highway 1
I stay free,
rub rain on my wind-burned lips
across cloud chasms
I float out of my life
When I get to where I’m going,
said he to himself, I will flesh out
what’s here, look for the bone . . .
Then he ate what there was to eat,
a freeway McDonald’s tasteless
burger, wanting to sleep but back
on the freeway watching the exit signs,
thinking, there’s time to do
a poem in my head,
stop in Santa Barbara, write it down,
continue up the coast road,
the best way to drive north (or south) . . .
after Nepenthe, then Miller's house;
Ferlinghetti’s cabin beneath a bridge
farther on . . .
So here you are, brash soul,
wandering home the longest way
you know, to enjoy the living . . .
After the sentence Socrates lay in the dark.
When he had been there long enough to know no one
was coming, he crawled out, stood in the cell, waiting,
and fell over on one side. They moistened the lips
of the cup, stood him up to drink the hemlock.
As in his story, he remained impenitent.
(11 April 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander