SURF CITY (SANTA CRUZ)
Lanky, sloppy surfer girl in dingy flip-flops,
Holey tie-dye tank top slung over thread-bare thrift store jeans,
Encircles her arm, taut and white, with his–
The color of burnt brown sugar, festooned with
Waist-length black hair cascading in large frizzy curls
That threaten to catch in his canvas belt.
They bogart a parking space in front,
Open eco-containers overflowing with beans and rice that
Fall from their vegan burritos, littering her dirty toes and the sidewalk.
They sit, their long gangly legs
Preventing vehicles from pulling into the space–
Their bicycle for two takes up another.
They feed leftovers to their doberman pinscher, tethered with a frayed rope, before riding slowly away,
They leave the tables and the air conditioning for the chattering geeks.
Two overweight super-galactic nerds
Sucking down sugary Mexicokes
Carry on about software and routers,
Using combinations of English words that make no sense.
They are oblivious, pushing their dull brass frames up their oily noses as they wolf down salsa and chips.
“Have you tested the major conductor semi-radical protocol?” Crunch…slurp.
“Yeah, but the combustion antipathy was a real drag.
I went to the back end and reconfigured the vacuum interface differential
Which is where I found a more pneumatic response.” Crunch…slurp.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Crunch…slurp.
Their synchronized lip-smacking feeds the expansion and contraction
Of their elastic khaki waistbands and plaid short-sleeved dress shirts, crowned with pocket protectors. They are probably millionaires.
Two tables away, the dudes are in their own world, wild and radical,
Their beard hair tied in knots with colored rubber bands,
Dressed in baggy shorts, long-sleeved surf shirts and nappy knit skull caps
To warm their maggoty melons when they ride,
Dashing their bodies and brains at the mercy of the waves — and the traffic.
White hammer toes, pressed broad to grip the board,
Washed clean and pumiced by 20 years of sand,
Tap aimlessly as they inhale a table’s worth of burritos–
Shrimp and avocado and black beans,
The fuel of coastal champions–
One belches and they cackle like Beavis and Butthead, falling out of their chairs.
Their Left Coast lives look free and breezy, no hurry on this Thursday afternoon–
I’m tempted to burn my bra and grab a surfboard as I leave.
FOG CITY (PACIFIC GROVE)
Seventeen miles of winding road,
Switchbacks that tone my midsection around the curves,
Bringing me through hooded turns, blind and unsure, splattered with
Fat dew drops falling hard against my windshield–
I discover an unearthly city, hidden in silent white billows
Next to the sea.
The people and the air are chilled and ghostly,
Pinched smiles and rays of sunshine
Barely penetrating the cloud canopy.
Their frigid shade obscures sun tans and boisterous laughter —
It dampens the chattering of crab legs and the cries of gulls from the beach.
The wind whistles between buildings,
Lingering in the cracks of the siding;
Rows of pastel cottages wheeze with damp.
A cumulonimbus elephant seeps through the crack of my open window,
But when I turn, it’s only my imagined breath fogging the mirror.
You and I are ghosts haunting this seashore, my shady intended,
Holding hands and shivering from the cold we pretend to feel,
Stealing behind the maintenance house,
Clutching each other against the rusted pipes,
Wishing that each of us was actually here.
Your eyes –blue ice– melt on my shoulders,
Engulfing me in memories that I’ll dismiss as dreams.
I feel myself forgetting the sun
As I turn in your embrace, tightening around my neck and waist,
My concrete boots sink to the bottom of the sea.
My eyelids shut and I drift into darkness, barely a heartbeat–
The fog rolls in and it overtakes me.