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 Rainbow sandal soles
Jesus Christ sells for free as street corner 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 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 camera flash and 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 along the coast
While the no trespass bubble blows to keep out all the ghosts
The glass house home security signs line the passing of the floats
Along the pomp and flash and 4th parade the pageant princess waves to say goodbye
Slowly creeping back in time and winding high with hope to save the daylight.


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