In my head there are more teeth
Than mercies—-John Ciardi
You can keep your cornfields, silos,
Autographed bibles and gooseberry jam.
Bye-bye frozen road kill and frost-bitten toes.
I wanted cocktails named after movie stars,
The Pacific Ocean, surfboards find the curl
In a wave, the beach which is my home
And sun-cured girls far too young for me
Trailing wakes of dangerous possibilities.
Time to git in my sou. Yeah!
Because my Hollywood-nurtured fantasies,
A lending library of banal appetites,
Were ready to take off
Like a flock of migratory birds heading west
Because everywhere else wasn’t there anymore.
“Let’s break to the basics,” my mother declared
As she blocked the front door.
“You’ll never learn a single thing in California
They’ll ever pay you for.” To which I replied:
“Adios Dad and the collection of serious junk
You bought to have and look swell
On you shelves—-a jumble
Of expensive tools, gears and pulleys,
Chains and bags of shiny stainless steel nails
You’ve only used once and that as a last resort.
It’s 1957, for goodness sake!
When are you going to unpack
The black market sugar,
Coffee and canned sardines
Mom stashed in the attic during World War II?”
Vaguely aware of the fact
That my heart had a crack in it
Which made it easy to empty
But impossible to fill,
I jingled my car keys,
Hopped behind the wheel
Of the brand new Chevy Bel Air
My father bought for me and headed for LA
Without a good thought in my head,
Halfway there before I started the engine.