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before the light is done

Everyone goes away. I wish I had something. I am sorry I chased my life away. Sunlight runs downhill in San Francisco. The light crushes me. The light buries me. I am buried between ever-changing bus schedules. I want to kiss all the middle-aged Asian ladies waving pink bags in the fog. All light is imported on a convoy of delivery trucks. I took my life, when no one was looking. I hope some of my clothing is appropriate for a Saturday morning disappearance. The heart is broken through the ear. Please don't remind me of my memories. I wrote a short story in the fury of Saturday morning sprinklers. I wrote a poem in the stillness of plate glass windows. The paperback will never return. I wonder if anyone remembers me in the dead hours of a Saturday morning. I add breath to red shadows of the wine glass. I cultivate disappointment on long afternoons of a windy life. The life is stale and windy. I watch the airport through binoculars or a pretty girl's telescope. She wears short dresses and black tights. I want to kiss her legs in the windy light of a dying afternoon. I want to touch her once before we are all dead. The humans played in water and light of a coastal summer, while I searched the shadows of a record store for an LP with your name on it. And maybe pictures of a pretty Asian lady in a short dress and black tights on the sleeve of colored vinyl. I never forgot the parking lots dying when the sun went down. I kissed a woman's hand in brutal anonymity of the Bay Bridge toll booths. I could never hope to meet her--or any of you--across the water. Instead, I surrender my life to a collapsible pier that would surely be forgotten if it was ever acknowledged in the first place. Someone left me. I'll never forget her in this horrible stretch of coastline. But I'll try to. I'll try to forget, wearing nothing but old underwear and reading moldy paperbacks in the basements of Chinatown restaurants. Mold and age will kiss me when no one else will. I'll laugh when someone tells me my skin and hair smell like a dammp cardboard box. I'll laugh when someone I used to know gets married. I'll have no reaction when I am told that someone who loved me is dying in a hospital far from home. Until much later. It will seem random. I'll double over and cry in the green heat of an afternoon arts & crafts show. I'll say I know this place. I'll say no one knows me here. Not even the sun. Not even the utility poles. The smell of blacktop makes me want to nap or die in a quiet room. Forgive me if I strangle myself with my own shirt. Forgive me if the police discover me masturbating in a municipal parking garage on Saturday morning. They might find me with torn pictures of a pretty Asian lady in a short dress and black tights. The best place for me would be alone and starving in high, dry grass of the Altamont. Where letters and postcards can't reach me. As if anyone sends letters and postcards anymore. But I'll be there. In the high, dry grass. Waiting for someone who recognizes my absence and will come with a letter or a postcard from someone who I thought wrote me off for dead or hopelessly starving. Oh, your handwriting. It kills me and makes me so happy. Remember when I lived some sort of life? Ah, the hopeless find hope in the damnedest places. I remember going to an arts & crafts store in North Beach or Pacific Heights and asking the lady adhered to the counter all these many years if she recalled my mother and if she remembered me and the smell of lunch meat and the failed push of bowling balls. I leaned this since then: that people sit in movie theaters to escape the warp and crush of their own memories--or hope to redefin them into something a little less lumpy for an easy night's sleep after the local station's spokesman has nodded off in promotional furniture. See what isolation has done to me? It keeps me pale and alone. I gave up on the notebooks, after they gave up on me. Late afternoon light gives me a rash. I masturbate over a closed casket full of dead fish and fried chicken. Drain the pools and make them easier for swimming. Park the bus behind the sun. Kiss a pretty girl before the church steals her away. The grass is high beside the ruined mill. I kiss you on the collapsible pier. I miss you and your ghost baking in the tall grass. The smell of paint put me to sleep in a day of absence. Play a piano tune backwards to make it sound right. If we could meet in an attic on a dying day. If we could meet before you forget my name.

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