Surf City

Stale beer and piss drift down the alleys off main
Flat screen sports highlights backlight street patios
Shaded with cocktail umbrellas and waitresses rushing and writing
Gum stuck on sidewalks and sandal soles
Jesus Christ sells for free on corners like litter
And fair weather believers pass with rolling eyes
Behind black designer glasses and shiny clean hair
But the dirty beards and bad tattoos
Cigarettes and B.O. haunt the once railroad
Hats and necklaces cheap for chasing
Couples argue in alcohol anger
Bar keeps pretend for friends
And old men’s bellies hang like time

Families walk with strollers
Kids drag foam boards by leashes
Bikini string clotheslines and tan lines
Paint the crosswalk and cars wait, rev
Stare and laugh and smoke and vapor
Leak out the windows down
Bass thumps in the distance and women laugh
Brake lights and exhaust clouds rise
The gutters curdled with vodka and last night
American flags wave and whip
And bridge the new buildings high and vacant
Locals wax nostalgia like big guns and single fins
Surf rocks roll and beach blankets float to heaven

The Pacific waves hello and mouths: “I’m still here”
Quiet and bold and humble and cold
Pulsing and gargling and panting for help
And sewage and dog shit and oil seeping floors
Seagulls fight for sand coated sandwich crusts
Pigeons pick at granola wraps and the kelp dries like dead fish
The garbage cans are empty and steam and sand crabs duck for cover
While lifeguards laugh at area codes and the surfers curse the crowds

Salt crust constellations sharp on shoulder blades
Sunscreen stinging eyeballs drip and the stingrays look up in prayer
White foam fades to yellow then to brown, the bubbles burst and build
The clocktower sings silent and the oil rigs rumble
Crumbled cliffside reminders of business on the boom
Where tourists stand for cameras catch the sunset and the view
Hometown hammers howl and hiss at the turning of the screws
And the children wake with sunburns, sand and shells inside their shoes

So the margaritas melt, on the rocks, and in the sun
A fight breaks out between the sheets, the policeman pulls a gun
The pelicans fly in pattern and fish for something new
Last call kills the chatter under the skinny dipper’s moon
The beach rake engine turns its gears, the tide covers its ears,
The waves count like sheep and crash and pass out beneath the pier
And the early morning risers reminisce and raise a toast
To the salt rock rim on glasses like the plastics on the coast.

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