Fushan kids back in bus


San Francisco—30 April 2011:
Poetic Art: Morning begins ...



These days

anyone in bed

     after 10 AM

          is considered

               a security risk.




after 10 PM.               

"Rembember 911?"

Does that make








"Remember 911

and put your shoes in the tray."



Shadeless and impotent

—trees cut, oil sucked dry—

few really care.

"Environment" is now

a marketing buzz word,

"green" the color of money.



Many times

     I hear

          the impure laugh

          le rire impure



          like rifle fire.

Then I look

     for the victims:





I am nobadic now

     like a one-man army

          in retreat

               making and breaking camp

                    each day.

Thank you Bushmen,

thank you government that isn't.

The writing suffers

     but that's okay;

          I do not kill.

I leave that

     to the banks

          and their Wall Street




"I was like,

     'What the fuck,

          shut up,

               get the fuck out.'"

She'd heard those words

     in a war movie

          and liked saying them."




Twenty-two beds

in a room

without heat

in January;

twenty-two people

breathing the same air,

people from all over the world—

Les Français, Die Deutschen, Los Sudamericanos; zhōngguórén (中国人);táiwānrén (台湾人); geuligo hangug salam (한국 사람); Americans; Australians; New Zealanders; Nigerians; Moroccans; South Africans ...

—breathing the same air;

all hacking and sick now,

any illness anywhere

now shared—

illness without borders

or doctors

in a room with 22 bunks.

Bunk you

bunk me;

get bunked for

25 US bucks per bed

550 US bucks per night

for the bank

which has lost nothing

though former schemes have failed.

And the victims?

You and me

them and us.


most of them:




hand-held owners

self disowners


by an industry

out for the buck, the euro, the yuán (元) ...  

and touting the "virtual" experience

over the real.


In the morning

a chorus of alarms,

ring-tone novelties

without novelty

urging users

to do something


top off their accounts, perhaps.

Did Orwell just get the year wrong?

But in bed they lie

the dead of a new age

composing replies

to fantasy


offerings of love and adventure

and even travel should they get out of bed.

But silicon and software win the day.

The bed is warm;

they press SNOOZE

and dream their lives away;

updates to Facebook,

Twitter alerts

can wait.


I AM the only


who doesn't believe



when the wide-screen

TV news goes off

at exactly 11:30 PM.

They guy next to me says,

"This is really a nice place."

"What place?" I ask.

"This hostel," he says.

I think he is being sarcastic;

he gives me a strange look

when I say,

"Yeah, and they just closed the kitchen down too. Bunch of dumb assholes!"

I'm walking down Columbus Avenue

in heavy rain

when I see a sign:


I'm not in an inquiring mood;

I'm depressed and it's raining.

But later, in an inquiring mood,

I come back.

I walk up a long flight of stairs.

There is no bad smell;

that is promising.

The young Indian woman

is lying on the couch

looking very old.

"I am curious," I say,

"about the rooms

you have for rent."

She looks curious about nothing.

I talk with her through a hole in the thick glass window of the office on the second floor. A young dark-haired boy is playing in the room, her son, I presume.

The price of either, she tells me, is $40 per day, $185 per week, or $750 per month. She hands me the keys to see one of the rooms on the next floor up.

I walk up another flight of stairs;

still no bad smell.

But the keys don't fit and I have to come back. A black man is now standing at the hole in the window.

"I apologize about last night," he says, squirming before the window, trying to make an impression.

She says nothing.

I tell her the keys don't fit in 228 and she hands me another set of keys—they look like her master keys—and she goes back to the couch.

Is she perhaps experiencing morning sickness? Is she depressed or both?

This time the door opens and I examine the room.

Small single bed

far right corner of the room.

Small closet near the door on the left

no roaches I can see.

One window that overlooks

gray lower rooftop,

some soda cans


on rooftop.

Walls off-white

or maybe just dirty.

Purgatory room,

I tell myself,

place to ask why

gain strength

put a life

back together

beg for forgiveness

or decide they deserved it;

look for a job

or a good excuse

reconnect with

alienated family

or write them off

like a bad loan


but forever is a long time

or at least an abstract concept

and you could really use

their money

if not

their support

and a clean pair of underwear;

So what do you do?

Become harder

or melt like butter?

Say you're sorry

with tears in your eyes

or say never!

Have a break down

or acknowledge your


and live with them?

But at $40 per day

$185 per week

$750 per month

you couldn't spend too long

doing any of this.

But my only problem

was the lack of money;

I had acknowledged my


long ago.

When I came back

the young woman

now looking completely


was still on the couch

and didn't get up.

Perhaps she should rent that

room herself

get her life in order

and tell Rajneesh

or whoever knocked her up

to beat it.

She looked terminally hopeless.

My "Thank you"


but a slight

flutter of her hand

that lay

over her heart

and which looked like

it was preventing

the blood

from flowing out.


I walked back to the hostel

just minutes

before the kitchen was closed

for afternoon cleanup.

Grabbing a brown

paper bag

labeled with my name

and my date of departure—

Lord, please let it be soon;

how much more of this holy shit

can your servant take?—

I was able to eat lunch

on a bench outside

in the rain;

lunch fit for the weather:

cold beans

and potato salad.



The cloud of poison


hangs over





It is their




Money-changer generations

ever changing

have trod, have trod ...


huŕirén (坏人)

rén (人)


any way

you look at it.

The mental deficit grows.