my friend said, “some of my friends look around and say, ‘now that i’m in my forties, i don’t have a job, i don’t have a house, i don’t have anything.’”
my gaze enters the intersection and makes a left turn.
sunlight pours through my line of sight. my gaze turns to smoke.
i laughed and said, “i wouldn’t have a house if it wasn’t for her.” i leaned against her in shaanxi garden.
i wouldn’t have a house if she wasn’t insisting, and our friends heading to foreclosure asked us to buy their house. it was a wreck, just like their marriage.
they hadn’t made repairs in decades. you could see through the kitchen floor into the basement. the bathroom wall had fallen into the bathtub. the bedroom ceiling had a manhole-sized hole.
our friends left, splitting up, heading separate ways, never to return, dead VW bug in the driveway, emptiness of lives all along the fence line where my daughter left alligator lizards in jars to mummify. we ripped out the interior, rebuilt the walls and windows from the studs out. i worked every day four months straight on it. still, the floors were wet and the place full of paint and varnish fumes when we moved the kids in. i put boards across the floors so we could go room to room.
she wanted a cactus garden in front. i’d never poured concrete in my life. i poured a concrete foundation for cement block walls, measured every angle and surface with plumb line and level as exact as i could. when the mexicano mason came to build the walls, he laughed at it. he fixed it.
i have a house because of our collectivity.
(this is not about ideology, fundamentally.)
i have the 8 hour day because of unions like my union.
i have this job because colleges and universities never offered me a full-time gig in spite of experience, books, publications, awards. they offer kids with no publications tenure track gigs that i applied for (when i used to apply); they offer me part-time or temp gigs, which are basically nothing to them. but i’ve gone on strike with my union and won; we’ve threatened strike over healthcare and raises and won.
i’ve paid $300 a month or more union dues for decades.
for years, i paid party dues and membership fees to organizations that don’t exist. they exist a little farther up the way.
radio hours blown into the last daylight in the trees.
traffic on the golden state freeway in orange afternoon haze.
people all driving in the same direction. not getting along, going along.
analyses in the press and we might comment.
exchange of commentary like crows.
it’s the collectivity that puts the wind in our mouth, that spins it away.