08: October 2015 #13 - Park View & Grand, City Street Lights

Authored by Brytnee Miller

Park View & Grand, City Street Lights

by Brytnee Miller

Night after night wrapped up, leather loafers stick their toes out of the blankets.
The corner of Grand and Park View Terrace sits a man, well dressed and lonely.
His eyes closed, suitcase resting against the pillars holding the overhang in place.
Blocks and a town away on Shattuck and Center there are guitars
and an Australian Shepard named Baloo lying beside his owner,
a twenty something vagabond whose address is wherever he rests his radio.
That boy's father in his Jerry Garcia shirt, an ex H-A he says, will call in his crew if
and when the time is right and someone lays a hand on his son's gentle eyes and wide shoulders.
Pressure points are in between the collar bones and a good punch in the nose will cause your foe to cry;
"as much as I hate advocating negative vibes, you're a girl and these are things you should know."
The street lamps are on, the late night commuters are stepping off of Bart
and the security guards are falling asleep in their golf carts,
tomorrow is Pride, Oakland's answer to the summer of Love celebrating rainbows and equality.
A man in a durag and a tshirt three sizes too big is following behind,
he knows he’s noticed and walks away, turns down a block.
The man under the bus stop feels safe as he slumbers the same place, every night,
which is more than anyone else can say.
There's a loneliness that touches city streets
and the melancholy weeping is heard through guitar chords
impossible to describe with words.
Every moonlit step tells the buildings to turn their lights off for a minute
to meditate in the silence of sirens and car horns,
the footsteps of those who wander beneath the concrete.
The subway is alive until 12:30 AM, its name is Bart.
On a hill four miles outside of Berkeley, the man with long hair, Jesus #3 he said,
does his push-ups with a fifty pound backpack that he's taking away to Mount Shasta tomorrow
to escape these city streets that he claims reek with bad fortune.
I kind of like the circle of dimness that surrounds the lake though.
The creaky tree that may break under my own weight.
The man asleep, that for some reason seems to protect me day after day,
his statuesque appearance and stability so comforting
while I wander downtown at a time I've been warned against.
But, the characters who sleep on the street keep me alive,
and always on my toes.
Reminding me to stay vigilant and open.
Those streets in Berkeley are filled with college kids bustling from a Cal game
and I'd never feel so lonely as when I'm putting myself inside of their brains
because riff-raff and vagabonds understood the nature of humanity that I've seen a few times before
in nostalgic times millions of miles away; the way a street lamp illuminates some metaphysical truth
at four in the morning when one should be safe and sound in bed.
Jesus #3 is on a bus to nowhere by now.
The man at the historic bus stop sleeps soundly knowing that at five AM a bus will come
and a businessman will be stepping on with a coffee,
not knowing about the rats that run back and forth on Grand just a half hour before.