Where are you in this grid of stone
from what lies beneath
the hills of Sonoma County?
The Flying Goat boasts windows of sunlight,
walls of minimalistic white,
coffee roasted at $16 a pound,
and still the scent of urine comes in its doors.
Where are you in this city of of homes that may cost $55,000
per square foot
but which claims a homeless population of thousands?
Men sit on curbs, in trellises, and
I nod as I go by because
I’ve already spent my cash.
I nod because they are human and
so am I,
and I nod because
I don’t know what else to do.
I’m an fool, I feel it, but good morning, I want to say,
I see you.
Where are you in a people who do not need you?
In a city wealthy but poor,
loud with Bernie stickers and
loud with protesters
protesting climate change,
the bombing of the Middle East
but still smelling of
Where are you when we don’t need you?
When we are wiser than you?
When our progressive intellects and
eradicated forms and traditions and reverence
in the hope of –
if not utopia, then at least peace?
We have enacted tolerance and individualistic, autonomic glory,
the loneliness still reeks,
still fills the streets beneath the whitewashed walls,
still fills the souls of those
in the shadows of the vine-crossed mountains.
When we moved from Oklahoma home to the West Coast, my senses went into overload with the density of the cars, the crowdedness of the cities, the poshness of the general populace, and the staggering sight of the homeless epidemic. The stark contrast within the city between the very privileged culture of the middle-to-upper class and its uglier underbelly of homeless and poor was so different from anything I experienced in the Midwest. It felt of the same kin as racism, and stank in the same way as the White attitudes I’d experienced toward Black and Native Americans – but was a different manifestation, and it was ugly and overwhelming all at once.
How can we do this? How can we know so much and be so wise and put on our expensive running shoes and jog these hills, and drink our health potions, and shop at Whole Foods and really feel like we’ve arrived at LIFE – because that’s what so much awesomeness can genuinely make us feel – all while none of it solves any of the real problems?
We are wiser than God (if there is one, we’ll say) but in actuality, the rottenness and loneliness are chronic.
We are an Emperor on parade with onlookers applauding because –
well, because better the lie than the discovery
that we aren’t wearing any clothes.
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