The Port of Oakland

Standing with the people
The people with everything wrung out of them
Where an urban thermal vent blows
Hot air from the emergency room sidewalk
Standing and waiting

A pull from a cigarette, migrating geese and an airport
The dog a big black open parenthesis on the floor
And my advice for you:
Can’t stop for every man with a harmonica
Can’t just pull the Jeep over and stop in the middle of traffic
Because there’s a guy in a wig playing a harmonica
On the balding parkway median

Remember, my little cube of passion fruit,
Remember when we were slumlords?
Remember Minneapolis?
Or the Port of Oakland, at the very least?

And maybe I’ve never had my face pressed against the asphalt
And maybe you’ve never enjoyed maggoty rice in
The outer urban seams of the subcontinent
Maybe you’ve never enjoyed anything that much

We are real and big and hulking
We do service and have
Service done to us
It is
The Way

The calloused Antarcticas of your ass
Of each buttock
From all those years of just plain sitting down
I feel my way across them with my own
Unhardened fingers in the night
And the salty frozen phlegm ice from the Frigidaire
Or the neighbors walking on our freshly lain sod

These are our villages burning at dawn

by Eric Arnold

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