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they walked among you, you stones.

these walked among you, you lonely trails.

they walked among you, dim plains.

these walked among you, down long shores.

they walked among you, misty trees.

these walked among you, cities of forgetting.

they walked among you, fallen petals.

these walked among you, empty shining skies.

i comforted myself with pork, BLTA, fat pastrami sandwiches, french fries, sack stained with grease, wiping my fingers on my shirt, drinking Coca-cola, hot cup of 6 AM dirty coffee in Newark airport. i comforted myself with hand-pulled noodles at Omar’s, octopus sashimi at Tokoro, birria tacos at Grand Central Market. 

i comforted myself with dreams and nightmares, trips through avenues of mushy memory, across states of varying dishevelment, climbed mountaintops in Wyoming, Washington, Calif., sat down on granite benches over thousand foot drops and tried to weep or make grand gestures but felt only relief of exhaustion.

i comforted myself with poetry that never ends because poets crank skinny lyrics out of their metaphysical garrets, singular delusion of tercets and quatrains plying my feelings of disdain and unhopefulness, sweetness of aesthetics that comfort with pliant illusion.

i comforted myself with women, vibrant elegant realism and gentleness so much the antidote to macho desperation and bitterness, their POV so often the entry into wild country beyond the obvious—-in reply to Taylor’s question, “How do you make it through?” i said, ”Always listen to the women.”

i comforted myself with my own communist ideation, teeth with so much more bite than the endless academic nattering of the New Left Review, the Monthly Review, white leftists straight out of grad school and the Frankfurt school, French critical theory and the Situationists.

i comforted myself with recorded music, Rahsaan Roland Kirk to the Sex Pistols, Victor Jara to Cafe Tacuba, Pablo Milanes to Bob Dylan, in endless rotation on the stereo as i clocked thousands of miles on the black odometer, distant lights of houses or buildings passing through nights.

i comforted myself by donating money to organizations after the collapse of the communist movement and the Soviet Union, which it turns out had provided refuge and support for liberation movements throughout the 20th century, destroying its best minds and then itself. after that, after the collapse of the party, collapse of cliques and party-building circles, survivors took up positions as outriders—outriders whose column has dispersed.

i comforted myself with narratives, Italian and Japanese movies of the 1960s, Herzog and Fassbinder, Shoah and The Sorrow and the Pity, the Wire and The Harder They Come, i lost sleep staring at the flicker of shootings and murders, kabuki faces and melodramatic stares across the years, as the night grew later and later.

i comforted myself with the Blue Demon of fury, we spit in each other’s faces testosterone saliva that immunized us against care, against Second Guessing, against hindsight about details and losses, while his helpful suggestions about suicide were left at the gate. (In the U.S. 80 of the daily 100 suicides are men.)

i comforted myself with looking at birds and listened to them tell us there was a whole other life—the crows burbled with laughter as they chased each other over the hills, the stilts and sanderlings stood in the river and watched the water go by, the gray heron just looked at us and said, “i don’t live like you, i live a different life,” the seagulls pecking at the missing face of the dead seal pup scattered before us, the line of brown pelicans flying in formation said, “we’ll never live like you do, we live a whole other life,” before peeling off in corkscrew dives into the top of the water.

photo by Jessica Ceballos

photo by Jessica Ceballos

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lali 9-21a

I did think of Lewis Macadams in passing (—happy 70th birthday, Lewis!)— at 7 AM as I rode my bike fourteen miles (7 each way) on the L.A. River bike trail where it starts near a bridge from Glassell Park up to zoo, Autry Museum and soccer fields at Griffith Park, passing joggers, old people walking, some with dogs, bikers on nicer bikes streaming past me, this heavy 25 year old bike, river flowing peaceful under floating mats of vegetation, around islands of trees, laurel, willows and bamboo where homeless people live (one encampment had a little arrangement of potted flowers and laundry at the entry path to the island), shopping carts parked on the bike trail, past studios and fabricator’s factories, the armored car depot and sheet metal sheds in the dusty smog wind off the 5 freeway that runs alongside, white egrets, black-necked stilts and lots of mallards in the river, black birds (cormorants I think) sleeping on a wire overhanging the river, Canada geese, (one dead coot in the bike trail), a hawk, but I was in a hurry to do the run, had to get to a meeting, so I pushed it and turned abruptly off the trail at the end, too fast, hit the sidewalk and flew over the handlebars, sprained my wrists when i somersaulted and landed on my back, an old lady calling, “Are you all right?” Nothing was broken, “Yes I am, thanks!” a little skin scraped off my hands, back on the bike, pedaling off to my breakfast meeting. gas-board-echolot

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