From Lafayette to Walnut Creek , my cousin Paul
drives us on to I-680 through the sunny, California
exhaust haze on the way to Santa Cruz.
His black Camaro speeds past a hillside on fire –
its engine, a roaring personification of his Leo birth sign.
It’s me and him and Jacob, the saxophonist from
his jazz rock band and his college friend Robert.
Paul turns the radio dial every fifteen seconds –
rifling through stations that drone the anesthetic synth pop
of Naked Eyes, A Flock of Seagulls, The Thompson Twins, etc.
“That sucks” he exclaims after each change of channel
while I’m rattling in an Elavil agitation cell,
picturing a stroll by the aqua waves of Santa Cruz.
But when we arrive, there is no parking near the beach.
Later, we’re driving north on Highway One
above the dusky, blue Pacific
and into San Fran at Market Street
where we stop at Little Joe’s for pizza.
As we’re waiting for our order, Paul says:
“I’ve got a joint in the car that my girlfriend’s uncle gave me
and I don’t want my Dad to find it there tomorrow.”
So, he starts pounding on the table.
“Let’s get John stoned” he repeats over
and over my protestations that I don’t smoke it anymore.
Out on the street, me and him and Robert
take three or four drags off it and go looking for
a club where Jacob can play alto sax with the band.
When we find one, the couples dancing there
seem to be in another dimension
and then I’m gazing at the lunar map
of my face glowing in the restroom mirror;
then Paul is driving us down the long hills
like a TV show police car chase
under the vast and shiny, midsummer stars
rolling across the Frisco heavens.
Finally, we’re back in the Windham Hill suburbs
of my uncle where running shoes
and a rubber chicken hang from the telephone wires.
At last, Robert comments in recitative
about Rimbaud’s hatred for his mother.
Copyright 2016, John Gorski
John Gorski has been writing poetry since he was 19 and received a BA in English from the University of Cincinnati at age 26. In his forties, he studied poetry writing at the UW Extension for two years. He has been taking poetry workshops at Hugo House since 2008. His poems have appeared in Paper Boat, Switched-on-Gutenberg, Art Access, and Poetry on the Buses 2014.