Thursday, December 23, 2010


I was there for church line-up, then for the church sign-up, then for dinner, then I was cold and needed to retreat. I wasn't layered up. I had cowboy boots on, which have pretty consistently, when the temps are below 50, made my feet cold. Why don't I give them up? They are my Tent City boots. I still have my copy of Watermelon Sugar in my right boot. It falls out every time I take my boot off and I stick it back in there. I read it some nights in my sleeping bag in a sleeping bag in a bivy on milk crates. Off to somewhere I go then, to write, to prepare, to do something, what? No destination. I'm headed to Greenwood. The turns I make take me there. Perhaps I am going to Kate's. I park and go into Makeda and work on a few things. I close them down. I stop by Kate's. She is in her den, watching a movie, the doors are locked, no doggie topsides. I consider the hot tub. There is it and here I am, cold. I could knock on the basement window and say ,"Let me in, let me in!" I retreat. I get in my car. While the engine warms, I add a layer, long johns and a fleece jacket, and drive across town. I feel like an outsider. I want to be alone with the others who are alone. But then I hear a faint music, voices singing, a choir. I'm carrying an extra sleeping bag in with me and my art supplies and my hip sack. I am wearing my crazy 10 sweater poet's cloak. I am laden, so to speak. But I walk towards the music anyway and away from camp. I am the only one wandering about. This is suburbia. Every so often a car passes. Unlike the days before, I do not feel as if I own the street or the town or the world. I feel as if I am trespassing and will need, at any moment, to provide my papers and explain who I am and where I'm going. Why? I'm tethered to Tent City. I represent it. I could cause them harm. It is already a scar, a mar, an imposition on the neighborhood. Or so some feel. Or so we are told. Or made to understand. It runs through my head that I am a threat. Am I a threat? I do have bundles. I am going to a homeless camp tonight. Are they wondering how I see them? Are they wondering if I am scanning their homes, their yards, their landscapes for some space? Are they are wondering where I will end up tonight? Will I tread on their world? Will they have to conceive of a way to fix me or remove me? Am I looking to nest? I hold up my head. I make eye contact. I look annoyed when they get in my way. Come on, come on, I've got places to go! I maintain a confident, optimistic facade. I talk to dogs. I fondle my cell phone. I make prudent decisions when crossing the street. These things keep me from looking homeless. Hah, they include me in the known world, the neighborhood of the understood. By time I return to camp, hours later, I am warm, my feet are warm and, though I am still trespassing, it is more the way a raccoon trespasses. There is a certain transfer of ownership after a certain hour in suburban America, when suburbia itself shrinks and goes inward and the possums and raccoons and take over.

solder soulder solidare to make solid
this is the front line we're wide awake in here there is a rustling in the wings a shifting overhead let them buy you dinner let them give you scarves you're serving a purpose someone somewhere is arranging your life someone somewhere is in your things talking to someone about you about what they can take from you everyone is asleep we are untying knots we're in plastic bag we're suspicious but we know how to forgive and we're willing to share what we have what do you need what do you want how can you be more than you are more than one person a toy a man a dog all at once a long man in a long blanket like a cigarette stands with a fold of fabric over his head it's quiet hours the lights are out we're sharing advice now at a lower level divulging normalizing excusing venting aligning exposing you're nothing but a wheel on gravel now we own you we own the moon we've seen it all

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