George Evans: 3 poems

distilling vodka / for the wealthiest drunks in history. §

  George Evans

  3 poems

  San Francisco: Brume by the Milliliter
  Three Romantic Pieces
  Shakespeare’s Garden

  San Francisco: Brume by the Milliliter

There is a lapsed world, a present,
and a future proscribed by digital
imaginings: past edited, present
snuffed, electrodes stabbed
everywhere in case reanimation
technology catches up, O robo polis,
once western charm, streets choked
in luxury cars and buses, no eyes
peering out, and living ghosts cling
to vestiges, otherwise it couldn’t
matter for them outside memory.

Fog rolls in the same though now
captured and used distilling vodka
for the wealthiest drunks in history.

San Francisco / September 2016

  Three Romantic Pieces
  I. The Thief

After seeing off the new love of your life you miss your
own last train and it starts raining. It’s a three hour walk
home where you left your phone so there’d be no distractions.
It’s cold, there are no cabs or buses, every street is deserted.
You spot an unlocked bicycle leaned against a wall in an unlit
alleyway with no one in sight. You hear wailing, screaming,
arguments, gunshots in every direction around you in the dark.
Though hesitant, you lift and climb onto the abandoned bike
and while adjusting yourself to the seat a cursing tattooed skin
head, shirtless in a leather vest, slams through a dive bar door
across the street and runs towards you swinging a bicycle chain
that you look down and discover is missing from its sprocket

  II. The Coast

It was on that coast while he was reading I. Turgenev
for the first time and a poet’s former wife with whom
he was sleeping was ensconced in their airy bungalow
secretly reading his secret diary until shrieking loudly
enough to be heard above surf he later said and came
running at him through foam and wet sand kicking up
water blades and sand clods before and to the sides of
her then considerable bulk waving a fish bat her mouth
in a frozen howl with the sound sucked away by waves
so he couldn’t hear her shouting the way he had before

  III. The Zoo

She said she was single and made a big deal of it. Her insistence
might have triggered suspicions but didn’t so they went to the zoo
where she cried over apes in their cages and various other creatures
swearing she would never visit another zoo but nonetheless bought
elephant dung for her garden, delighted to be with her new friend,
so much so they wound up at nearby Menagerie Vista Motel, making
passionate love during which her new paramour insisted she wear her
beret the whole time, which she did, every so often shouting ‘Oui
or ‘Oui oui’ to be charming and evocative, driving her lover to heights
of passion even as the dung became obvious, and at a moment they
reached one of those heights someone called her name and there was
heavy pounding on the door with what sounded like the butt of a pistol

San Francisco / July-August 2016

  Shakespeare’s Garden

Cupping his smartphone he sat talking on a bench outside the arboretum turnstiles near Lincoln, across and down from the locked Bard’s Garden where he would soon go, knowing a secret way in, planning to wait there until the guards cleared the arboretum for the night then come back. The minutes on his phone were gone and it was dead but he held it anyway. Phones were handed out for free to reduce crime, but he knew the only crimes reduced by free phones were phone thefts.

Still, holding even a dead phone was good cover, and he felt it helped him seem normal, connected somewhere, no matter his hair was like a Henry Moore sculpture balanced on his head. He could recharge the phone if he wanted, with power and minutes — there were free USB plug-ins everywhere, even at bus stops — but he’d only used it to watch David Letterman reruns anyway, and with no one to call or be called by, not even by the friendly gal at City Hall who gave him the phone, it was just a prop. Plus he had seen all he could bear to see of Dave for one lifetime.

After counting various trees, cherries most numerous, he crossed and went to the Bard’s garden where he stood facing the locked alcove containing a bronze bust of the poet displayed during special occasions and weddings in the garden (the irony of which was not lost on the Bard’s presumed low estimate of his own nuptials). Splayed to both sides of the alcove, on brick walls, were bronze plaques with bas relief lines excerpted from the plays, containing the names of every plant and flower mentioned by the Bard.

Behind him, a garden of those flowers, variously in bloom, dying off, or freshly planted. He shuffled along the wall reading the lines splashed with light green corrosion, imagining the drama, plants, and flowers, reading aloud while touching the raised words as if making them speak. Afterwards he sat on a bench and continued talking, following a monologue that rode into depths as would fishing line pulled by a fish.

‘If a man wants roots, he can get them. Wants beauty, he’ll find it. If he wants happiness can establish it, define it, shrink it to reality. Happiness can’t be any owned thing — too particular, sized up, market defined. Must be flowers. No, must be what a man’s willing to risk his mind for. ’

He knew he’d been foolish in life, but only partly, during his youth, and when you’re young, he reasoned, it’s fine, even de rigueur, to be foolish. But it was not okay in a San Francisco closing in on everyone not well off, fixed, rich, trussed up and trust funded, like box flaps being slammed and sealed from outside. But he felt the same as he did when he was young. That was the problem. Nothing could change that, but it set him off against almost everything afoot.

He would wait until dusk, and then, before night patrols started, leave the garden through a secret flap in the chain link fence. The arboretum would be closed and locked, so he would camp there by the head of the south draw near the Chinese dwarf redwoods. If not there then in the moon garden. It depended on who was around, who else made it in. They could be crazy. He had to be careful. He liked the Chinese copse best in that weather. Its dense ground mist was solid cover. The hidden bench at the duck pond behind the Hall of Flowers was always better, but he didn’t want trouble. The city was swarming with outlanders since the Tech Rush (more so than Summer of Love crowds), playing things like Pokémon Go on their super smart smartphones and catching on fast to easy spots — at least what used to be easy.

He said almost all of this aloud, the enormous hair on his enormous head bouncing.

San Francisco / September 2016

US poet George Evans
US poet George Evans

George Evans lives in San Francisco. Among his books are Sudden Dreams (Coffee House Press), and The New World (Curbstone Press). His most recent collection is Espejo de la tierra / Earth’s Mirror, a bilingual selection of poems translated by Daisy Zamora and published by Casa de Poesía (Costa Rica). Other poems from his on-going San Francisco series will soon appear in translation in an anthology of contemporary US poetry to be published in Mexico and Spain.

 

Leave a Reply