Tag Archives: TRUE CRIME

At the Hard-Luck Cafe

One drunken angry homosexual ruined my breakfast this morning
My pancakes and root beer that the Louis L’Amour man cooked for me
Real honest-injun covered wagon cakes with hash browns and root beer
This isn’t even really a neighborhood where homosexuals hang out
He fell off of his stool and slammed his queer head on the grimy tile floor
I reached for the hot sauce – but I just didn’t have it in me to finish breakfast

Bomb Threat: Los Angeles: 2013


No one is moving away from the free food table any time soon
There are few seats and the cement ledges aren’t comfortable
I flirt with a woman who is concerned about her curly hair
I tell her she looks beautiful – she smiles – she doesn’t hear that enough

We decide to cross Jefferson Street and go into the temple to get a good seat
We decide to cross Jefferson Street and go into the temple to get out of the sun

We are stopped by a chubby young cop who explains there has been a bomb threat
He postures like John Wayne and tries to wrest the most out of his badge and uniform
No one is buying- but everyone is listening – he relishes the audience – he is so LA

You gotta go around he says You gotta enter on Pico – this is where the event is.
(By event he means this is where the caller said the bomb was hidden)

Brave and crazy – the mass of humanity moves toward Pico – impervious to the threat
We are AMERICANS and these are our kids and you won’t ruin their special day

Did no one learn anything from Boston?
Did we forget in one short month what was at stake?

We move as one under the California sun – the police woman politely lifting the caution tape
We have to get into the temple before all of the good seats are taken

I wear a flimsy black bag on my shoulder – no one checks it
I hold my coveted ticket out for scrutiny – no one checks it

They simply herd us into the storied theater with the magnificent chandelier
We settle in and prepare for the speeches and the processions

Somewhere – someone is waiting for CNN coverage – hoping for attention
Somewhere – someone is wringing his hands – staring at the phone on the kitchen table

We walk and we sit politely together because we are AMERICANS and these are our kids

The Hero

I am like the angel-savior guy – he said to me
He was standing in line at the liquor store
He hoisted his twelve-pack of babysitting fluid
off of the counter and under his arm
It’s like I can take his kid to the park and buy him a hamburger
That’s going to have impact his life – on both their lives

The bottles were sweating inside the cardboard case
But I gotta use his phone – man – that’s how I work
I work with a lot of paper and stuff and the telephone
But I want to be a hero to this guy and his kid
If his kid recognizes me when I get there tonight
I’ll be the hero for the whole family

…the storm raged around him

There was no apology for his violent reaction to the cool later summer breeze
His head whistled around on his shoulders like a broken circus toy
His knees buckled under the weight of the charred remains of his soul

He finally allowed her to peel away the dead skin that protected him
She dragged him out of the darkness where he had lingered for so long
Her strong back propped him up against the storm that raged around him

A sliver of sun punctured the sky and forced its way out and across her face
The ray of light brought with it the warmth and love of a litany of strangers
He wrapped himself around her tender body but it was she who protected him

Ashland Avenue South of the Viaduct

This is Norman Rockwell’s drug fueled nightmare of America
A country smashed in the face by racism and hatred and anger
This bleak landscape allows no mercy and no opportunity and no love

Dirty broken windows that don’t let in the light but can’t keep out the brutal cold
Wood so rotten it droops like the dreams of the men and women it intends to protect
The quiet streams up swirling across the deserted lots and abandoned buildings

Hope pushes its way through the cracks of the jagged sidewalk
Only to be stepped on by heavy ugly boots filled with loathing
The boots and the loathing move west with a slow steady shuffle

A life can spiral out of control downward at a rapid pace

A life can spiral out of control downward at a rapid pace
Then it is reduced to a smudged and wrinkled George Washington
Slipped absently across a bar – one more can of Old Style

There was no next of kin when they broke the doors down
Someone said he had a son – a son in a band
“Listen to my son’s music,” he beckoned from his weathered barstool

The barstool is empty now – it will soon be reassigned
Some other life – some other meager existence
Will take over the last of the barstools without an owner.

The rest of us will watch in wonder – sometimes in horror
We will hope that we aren’t found days later by bar buddies
We pray our friends would never let that happen

Come to Chicago; Iraq is Burning

In my country there are always fires
She said without a trace of irony

In my country there is always war
She said in that clipped arrogant way
That only a nine-year old girl born in Chicago can speak

I was born in Iraq but we moved to Jordan when I was two
Maybe it was three – no it was two – I was two years old

Then we moved here to Chicago four years ago

I’m not afraid of fire I have seen it so much
It doesn’t bother me

Later she hugged me hard around my waist
She told me I was glue – we laughed – glue
She made us both feel safe for a minute

For that one May morning moment on Winona Avenue
There were no more fires – great or otherwise
There was no more war – no anger – no hatred

She skipped across the playground
In that graceless way
That only a nine-year old girl from Chicago can skip