Jay Passer‘s work has appeared in print and online since 1988. He lives in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, the city of his birth.
EVERYBODY, ANYBODY, NOBODY
the last time I walked around in the forest
I can guarantee was not
bare of foot.
has the city taken me hostage?
those giant redwoods and
ferns bursting from the trunks
in radiant lime neon,
clear to see on a postcard or
in an advertisement,
though lesser as a memory than ever.
is the city consciously attempting to
sirens seem specifically designed
to home in on my location
while each breath, shorter than before
has that peculiar almond scent
the kind you sense just before getting
a couple of blackbirds, gossipy in the trees
appear quite unmoved
as I wipe the grime of exhaust from the
like lipstick off the kiss of death.
WITH GRAINS OF STARS FOR EYES
I lived on fish jerky and dried fruit
as I searched for you
I lived on wilted flowers
and the regurgitation of
air pollution was
regulated and the avenues
besieged and the surfaces of structures
reduced to humidors for propaganda
a small cup of wine and a trail of breadcrumbs
led me to your shadow
my only solace
as I sought out
as I defied liver bone and heart
as I stepped out of the way of the truncheon and boot
the uniforms on the street and badges defying justice
innocence and victimhood reduced to
black and white
the classic dichotomy of cop mentality
and not too relevant when handcuffed to the back seat
unkempt in County blues I searched
back to perdition
scraping the cinder block walls with initials
with a heart
and a poisoned arrow
through the bombed-out city I hunted
as the pillagers and the looters
fenced spoils in the courtyards of foreign castles
I endured on a whim while some faint music trickled
from a tinny conch
back to sea I roam
Poet Jay Passer
I’m off, to stretch my legs.
Cold and early.
Streaks of stars
blink against crackerjack
I turn away.
It’s worse than cable TV,
worse than looking in the
I decide on the park, some cruel bench
to stall consciousness for a spell.
I open the door
to a long flight of stairs.
To naked cats scrambling.
To clouds so palpably
A city square park.
Some monument hidden in the trees
by hostile civic misanthropy.
The city propped on
on me-first belligerence.
Dogs leading banal humanoids
through crayon-drawn tufts of grass.
speaking through a worm hole.
I hear voices,
rhetoric spray-painted on moving vans
and alleyway walls.
It’s childhood speaking.
I am looking out the window.
down the street.
I am sitting
on a bench as the sidewalk squatters awaken,
loved by neither cosmos or God:
the double agents of
On the bench in Washington Park,
dwarfed beneath lean towers
of a chalk cathedral
as the Asian ladies dance.
another excuse for the sky,
I tilt my head,
it’s always the same songbird;
news flash informing brain cells
of impending war.
I go home to a single room,
the room is my home,
at $220 per week it’s admirable enough.
I open the window,
only to close it again.
The fan quit spinning about a week ago.
I pace the room.
I hike up to the roof,
I come back to the room.
Sometimes I eat something, then,
later, I use the plumbing.
Sunlight streams through cracks in the walls.
I turn away.
I turn away from the mirror
as you fashion your hair up in pythons.
THEY COME AFTER HOURS
they come after hours
to power-wash the sidewalks
it’s 3 in the morning
but at 6 AM sharp expect the recycling truck
a tank sans weaponry
to pull up at the back door
of the restaurant across the street
don’t forget the crows
in brusque conversation
perched above the brimming
there are many others as well
they laugh in the basement of my subconscious
they boil like blood out of a cooked brain pan
they run in the streets like maddened bulls
they are not too joyous
they are not very smart
to plague my keyboard
the gutters my intuition
borne from the sewers, the end results of
WRONG IN THE EYES
I assassinated a cockroach today
is that wrong
in the eyes of God?
squashed that little bastard good
in the manner of third-world country prison cuisine
am I a fascist, a megalomanic slob?
am I a killer
in the eyes of God?
I think I’ll simmer some rice
the man next door coughs heavily
my only entertainment is the radio
I used to compare eyes to headlights
the rain keeps down the pollutants
songs are essential in the kitchen.
we have it made in America
maybe if he didn’t smoke so much
steam heat knocks upon the silences
once I inked eyes on my fingertips
seasons are short like classical haiku
I just might steam some asparagus.