I'm at party, with a drunken friend—it’s 2 a.m.—
there's doctors, punk rockers, stock brokers,
an open bar in someone's low rent house on the North Shore,
it's grown too late, the music so loud,
laughter bursts like fireworks;
the only woman in my sights, with a mauve crew cut
and black beatnik tights, turns out to be solidly married
to an addict from New York who lost his muse
in the Afghan war;
she guzzles Merlot and apparently wants to tell me
his entire life history
at which point I want to leave, the party is dead to me.
I stumble through a crew of cocaine snorters
out onto the patio where lesbians are wrestling,
climbed back through the house to finally find my ride,
Tommy, sitting on the front porch weeping about an old girlfriend
who was there, in the care of a well-known surfer.
Tommy wanted to go home and grieve
but couldn't find his keys;
he stood, and though standing still, toppled,
almost crushed his drunken head on the concrete steps.
I was bored with him, the party, life in general;
a little stoned myself and so decided to walk
the ten or so miles home even though I barely knew
where I was in the winding suburban beach enclave
full of dead ends and circles.
I walk into the foggy night—
looked at my watch, it was 2:15 and then it stopped—
playing into the deserted streets and silent world;
the birds and dogs had taken the night off,
cars stood still,
the sky hidden under the fog's professional embrace,
I see at best 30 feet into the mist;
shaggy lawns covered by tricycles, surfboards
and ceramic trolls in front of selfsame cookie cutter houses
revealed one by one in silhouette, a private hush,
broken by distant waves spent on the shore,
like a careful train in the ocean fog;
and I walked in circles
for a while or hours I think, time was broke,
it didn't matter,
I embraced the moment, congratulated myself
for not suffering a drunk to drive me horne;
even lost, I was alive and straggling
in the clearly beautiful foggy night;
decided not to care;
so I walked, breathing, in the murk.
Heard a seagull shouting;
hadn't noticed that I'd left suburbia,
strayed onto a bridge;
earlier in the night we'd crossed a river by car,
took a minute or two, but on foot . . .?
I stopped, studied my broken watch—2:15 still—
stared over the rail, to the river down below,
20 feet or so; an ocean breeze, smelling of seaweed
and brokenhearted whales, swept the mist away.
The river flew out to sea, lost in the brine;
a fish stuck his head up
and studied me as I him, it seemed odd and I looked around,
finally worried all alone in the middle of naught;
the cold pulled my light jacket closer.
The fish drifted off, still staring,
a portent of watery things to come.
The bridge left no decisions,
only one way to go into nothingness, so I walked,
in the midst of a river, on one of man's conceits
that allowed lost fools in the dark of a wet night
to cross unscathed.
A giant green road sign crawled from the mist
announcing a well known freeway to corne;
although municipal codes forbade pedestrians,
theories of straight lines and linear thought told me:
10 honest miles and I was horne.
Trudged on up the ramp, onto the deserted freeway,
where it began to rain, a steady true downpour,
the fog washed gone, which I didn't mind,
recognized it as a poem or a police report;
didn't think to hitchhike, wanted to carry on
as if discovering the west coast, on foot,
a thousand years ago.
The rare car floated by, like a buffalo
and the rain poured; the river behind
trying to catch me;
I walked with fortitude for an unknown while,
saw a camp of homeless
snug and warm underneath the concrete,
they had a fading fire and a foolhardy dog
that smelt me out as one with a home
and warned me off with an easy death threat;
put my head down, and bore on into the deluge.
Found myself miles above ground
on the top lane of a civil engineer's dream,
3 or 4 roads writhing down below me,
all washed by the sky, the rain so thick,
the road and I seem the same;
streetlamps sizzle and the occasional car
changes to the far lane to avoid the lunatic
violating protocol, striding along the edge of night,
soaking wet and out of place.
I walked for an hour, off the engineer's dream,
trudged up a hill on the highway,
a creek sprouted on my path, over my boots, into my epic;
8 miles away lightning exploded,
so much water fell, I can't lay claim to your belief;
I walked on . . .
breached the hill and saw another green sign—
like an ancient artifact looming in the sky—
that regretted to inform me: I'd only gone 2 miles.
Although I had every intention of conquering the road
and gave myself kudos for audacity and grit
fatigue started talking, the rain wouldn't quit;
my boots were made for show, not pioneers;
my warm bed seemed like narcotics or love, impossible;
nonetheless, a part-time realist,
I put foot after foot, at last stick my thumb out
towards drifting cars, more frequent now
that dawn nibbled at the horizon.
I purposely stomped my feet
in a 4 beat rhythm, looking less than sane,
began to sing about a man who could do anything,
like swim across the sea,
make love for days or eat the moon—
when 20 feet in front of me, a car pulled over.
In the pouring rain, it looked like imagination,
to thee point where I simply stopped and stared.
The brake lights flared, the horn honked
the passenger door opened and I ran for it.
Her name was Doris, older than anybody I knew, 70 or so;
worked in a donut store.
A terse rescuer, "I'm exiting at Genesee,"
was all she said, which would leave me
one last noble mile from home.
"Stay out of the rain, for Christ sakes,"
Doris said and dropped me off
in front of the donut shop; the rain stopped,
and my watch started.
The sun fought its way into the sky
over my watery neighborhood,
the idea of home held me in its arms like never before;
every bit of familiar terrain
seemed a brother or lover,
I found a spring in my step, lost miles back,
and finally turn down my own street,
the sun shines my boots, a local dog greets me,
trots along and dances in circles.
Mrs. Turin, in her turquoise sweat suit, speed walking past,
grunts good morning; I stroll along like I'm going to
pick up a million dollars and almost break into
a Louisiana Pimp walk . . .
I spot Tommy's car parked in the driveway.
It's strange sight, as if my old life,
before the fog and rain, had been resurrected
and followed me home.
Through the cracked windshield
I see Tommy slumped, asleep
I walked around the car and besides my drunken friend,
there are two good-looking women
slumbering in the back seat;
although I've been changed by the night's happenings,
I'm not past the lure of the female form
and recognized slightly mad party girls . . .
but I'm tired,
leave them to their slumber,
cross the threshold that I'd yearned for,
drop my damp clothes as I walk towards the bedroom,
crawl under my beloved covers,
and immediately fall
into a reasonable dream.