Waiting for the Quake

I.

Oakland waiting for the quake
American poverty’s blanket dirty
unwashed a shroud on the street
abandoned by wandering drug thirst,
while the sane sweep in front of their tents
(a new day John will watch it for her
Sammy won’t let the bikes get stolen
down to the Mission for a meal
Joan will spell her –
the cops might look away for another few days
the sky clear thinking: “Jesus Jesus show me the way
show me the light home
show me the home
show me heaven when I close my eyes, take my breath
I’m done when you say
sooner than later please”)
– Big blue sky the only Jesus
sweeping in front
of the tent the only prayer
that seems to work
small debt becomes large debt
but even the poorest
have phones

Palm Door East 7th St. Avenues B&C - 1979 photograph by Philip Pocock
Palm Door, E. 7thSt. between B&C, 1979, photograph by Philip Pocock

II.

silent bikes in the night –
white meth heads checking car windows
for a smash & grab –
morning choose your street corner well,
a dog with a sign helps “I am the child you lost to hate I have slipped between the cracks – my teeth are going I have a steady cough – I will live shorter than you” car upon car upon
car passing,
black hulks tinted windows
– the dog lays down its head

-Marc Olmsted