I’m staring at skeletons of steel dinosaurs to one side diamond-topped skyscrapers on the other,
standing at West Oakland Station, bisecting the haves and have-nots, port workers to my left
Google-bus-boarded, hi-rise-dwelling hobbits to my right.
I am both of you, I want to cry to them. And I am neither.
I’m waiting for a train to transfer to the airport surrounded by code-monkey party boys, sure-why-not executive assistants and the starved and overworked skeletons of the cafe workers who serve them.
I could have been any of you. But I left.
I shouldn’t be here I’m earning too much money for a writer and too little for a father of three and a half. I left this city in its latest infancy to be legit
and far away from here I have gained a home but lost the meaning of it
I spent a week trying to fund other people’s dreams but lost my own, I write stories when I should be watching sitcoms but for the rest of my life I am normal, normal.
The difference between subway and taxi was 6 minutes so here I am, waiting for a transfer and eating stale kugel instead of a corporate buffet.
It’s not compromises I’m making but a protracted negotiation, G-d vs. my job vs. these four little souls chirping for me, my limbs like worms my mind hurtling through loose connections like soppy dirt
I might be in our apocalyptic future, buildings upon buildings of steel and emptiness running through them, a child tucked under each arm
Foraging for food in ashes and not
crunching charred crust in my teeth
everything is artisan when it’s one of a kind
We tell ourselves some foods taste better cold
Cold pizza is a consolation prize
you got it but you can’t wait
you got it but you have no oven
The sensation is still there, brittle cheese
clinging to ketchuppy sauce
Kugel is not one of these
Left cold it becomes lumpy and dripping,
a disembodied stickiness with nothing
to cling to.
Still in this mush there is a heart
the mix is a memory
of someone grinding, someone chopping
someone’s slender fingers pricking each potato
from the orphanage of a grocery bin
to an oven’s warm comfort
molding it for me
spending hours for the second
it eviscerates between my teeth.
I destroy it too easily
trying to hold it in my mouth,
to squeeze flavor from the cold
letting my taste buds reach for the moment
between pulp and potato
between what G-d made and what we made
the foggy indistinct moment
we call home