Last week, West Oakland again suffered malevolence.
Call it a fog of financing, a fire fed by greed.
Ring around the Rosie, Pockets full of Posie
Many nights now since the rain of hot coals.
Two hours to sweep cinders off the front porch,
the back deck, the garden paths. Whoever set
that fire – and it was set – didn’t care at all
about those who slept, sorting out life in dreams.
We’re lucky we didn’t all flash up in flames –
block after block of bone-dry Victorians –
empty lots overrun with seeded grass.
One spark caressed by wind and up it goes.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. No rings
here – except perhaps cell phones ring-ringing –
coded calls from owner to arsonist
to banker and back again. . . Red Star baked!
Job done! No more failing project! All gone!
The decision to build on a bare lot
where the Red Star yeast factory had once been
seemed mad. Who builds so near an elevated train?
Senior apartments??? Ha. No one no one
could live there jammed cheek to jowl, neck to neck
with crushing freeway jams, busy BART tracks –
trains stopping and starting every six minutes
twenty hours every day except Sunday
when trains stagger past three times an hour.
Despite such repetitious trinity,
anyone housed there would be caged. Abused
by shake, rattle and roar. Teacups would bounce.
Beds inch spider swift across polished floors.
Pianos play as if confused by ghosts.
Even carpets would rise, wrinkle and dance.
'They' knew all that before 'they' began to build . . .
too easy to grub up government cash,
build the place by half, then set it aflame,
blame the Street and cry Mercy mercy me.
Collect more $$. Was it arson? You bet.
Better question: Will they ever catch the creeps?
Maybe, maybe not. Thieves at that level
are neatly connected, miserably mean.
Slimy sorts with mildewed brains, dried up hearts . . .
unethical. of course. . . Still, they’re human –
all too human. Not angels. Not devils.
They eat, drink, shit . . . and talk. Guilt spills out –
So, listen, my friends, truth will out . . . or not . . .
they might be shot first. It’s a high-stakes game –
not easily played, more easily lost . . .
what more is there to say . . . fog arrived today,
white bellied clouds that slip and twist above,
great grey drifts that shred sun, split blue. Temps drop.
A parakeet lands on the neighbor’s fence –
Sun yellow feathers hatched with black and blue –
a mix-up of sorts, I guess. She flies up,
leaves with a handful flock of dull sparrows,
a bit of gold clipped to green shadow fog.
I clasp my own purple grey peacock shawl –
no gold to close it. My thumbs will do the job.