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san francisco california

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

there is a woman lying on the sidewalk. she is half-conscious and half-naked, filthy, grey skin from the waist down. on her face is so much makeup nightmare-smeared. rope is wrapped tightly around her hips and thighs and one wedge heel lies solo nearby. at first i think someone has drawn abstract patterns in black ink on her ankles but then i see that it is a map of veins. five equally filthy, grey-skinned men stand over her, laughing. a half a block away five cops stand against a wall, laughing. hundreds of people walk by, blind, in their bv, lv, ysl. 

the smell of piss is everywhere.

anthropologie, oakley, doc martens, the gap. man in wheelchair with no legs or teeth. his stumps reach out, clean and pink, in contrast with the rest of him. this old white man asks other old white men for money, but they can’t see him. the other old white men's cervical spines are locked in privilege and self-denial and aren't able to swivel. somewhere inside is the knowledge that mountains will crumble and their necks will break the moment they turn their heads.

my lyft driver is from ethiopia. she says: “we want to target america as if it something horrible. i can tell you that racism is everywhere. my own people are terrible; where i’m from it has nothing to do with skin color, but rather where you live. i can say that no other nation offers opportunity like america. i love america.”

there is something happening in front of that cell phone store: someone has a mic and some talent. a group of black men in rainbow clothes and a haze of smoke stand and dance around the talent, raising him up. i can’t hear his lyrics but his flow is good. white faces point downward as we scuttle around and avoid the soul gathering. we know - just know - we would not be welcomed.

that woman is a man. i can tell. they are trying something on, and also practicing. they are not yet an expert.

that man just stole a stack of jeans from somewhere. look at that stack! look at him speed walk past all these cops! looking over his shoulder… he and his friend have done this before. i root for him silently.

the smell of piss is everywhere.

here is the four seasons. the sidewalk is pristine and crowded with amateur cinematographers. there is a crescent of empty space between them and three tiny asian children in a string trio. the children wear crisp white collars, grey kilts, knee socks and black patten mary janes. i don’t recognize the song they're playing, but it sounds perfect. 

there is a couple that lives in front of my school, and they are in love. she tends to him. i thought he was always sleeping, but yesterday i saw him reading a book. they have a little home, a wheelchair, blankets and bags. her face reminds me of a snow baboon: pink and windburnt and holding so much wordless story. if she approaches me again today, i will give her something.

through the haze she might be seen.

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