redirected rivers

nautical dawn as seen through
skylight waking on a train-time


morning in north oakland
is a quiet place as the sky moves
from pink to blue
under which rachel and i haul
my 6-month luggage
towards emeryville

that includes cigarettes, Ecigarettes, vaporizers, and hookahs
announces the conductor who tells us that this
is a no-smoking train

in the machine i think while we
train-roll through one of
several refineries

the thought of one tangerine left
on a ledge at
emeryville amtrak station
this is the wistfulness

two push-up lizards
on scrap lumber
seen through chainlink fence
on the other side of the rails while we
wait at turlock station


luminescent: what the sun does
on this clear day
rolling through the san joaquin valley
to the rows upon infinity rows
of almond trees
flowering their white-petaled flowers

how everything in this
agricultural valley goes on
forever: storage units
concrete canals of redirected rivers
citrus groves
almond trees
wine grape vines

the all-too familiarness of
a liberty tax person sign-spinning in their
statute of liberty foam hat and
silky/velourish gown
(a signifier: that i am
in southern california)
it’ts happy hour in this motherfucker
fellow passenger exclaims
on his way to the lounge
for a $3 pabst
train mates i’ve met today:

i don’t know his name but his kids are dominique and sophia
he works for the circus (vargas family) which has no animals
and never did and he blames ringling brothers (which was never
even called a circus, just the greatest show on earth) for
perpetuating this undiscerned discrepancy

young man who sortof resembles adam sandler
but not in that goofy way in a red tshirt
as we pull out of LA station
learning we have portland and vancouver
(his home city) in common
and even though he’s in finance
and i’m a poet
we find this way to connect over
what it is like to be welcomed in
by a family that has no reason
to be so kind and generous
but does so anyway

cora on a basketball scholarship
in espanola with her
low slung eyes and
kinda butch slouched sitting stance
and how she talks about
getting in with the natives
(being welcomed to
gigantic family meals)
which feels like home/family
because of her
hispanic roots

the woman with a painted-on face
who works as a beauty advisor
for some company whose mumbled name i don’t recognize/understand
who mistakes
mexico for new mexico
(my father was born there, mexico city)
for which i don’t suggest a correction
later realize that technically
(before the u.s. stole mexico)
she’s correct