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Post Road Magazine #32

Sacramento + Big Meteor Storm Heading Our Way

Elizabeth Gold


It was the year men landed on the moon and nobody
could understand why the Revolution hadn't arrived yet
then he took the bus to Sacramento.
Oh, Sacramento, time machine, dialed back
to his childhood, where red-faced, stiff
haired men and women drove sun-struck streets
in big American cars and a girl—homecoming queen?—
waved her white gloved hand at the crowds as if simply being
herself was gift enough for anybody.
Across the ocean, war. A country burning so we'd stay free.
The traffic light changed. The ice cream shop had introduced
three more flavors. That was your news,
in Sacramento. He took the bus back to San Francisco.
Daredevil hills. Hummingbirds. Radiant blur that beat
by your ear urgent messages: Here. Yes. Must. Now.
Even birds knew what was right, in San Francisco.
But that night, in his knockkneed wooden house
that smelled of dope and patchouli and lentil loaf (sodden,
like something undug) and the others were talking
Che and any minute it was all going to go, man, explode,
and about time, too, mean old America, he found himself
pondering Sacramento: those wide wide streets and the flags,
and the big oaks the pioneers planted casting their green
shade, and the homecoming queen waving
her soft hand and smiling that sugar
sweet smile for him. Only for him.

Big Meteor Storm Heading Our Way

These are not crumbs strewn across the universe.
There is no cottage to track our way back to,
no dice, no alphabet. The static on the radio
has no secret messages. I have never seen the face
of Jesus in a loaf of bread or traffic light
in my life. And that night, violet,
overripe with the end of August
when I saw between two skyscrapers
a lit blimp like a fruit so heavy
it was ready to drop into my hands,
the Good Year emblazoned on its side,
wasn't sent to me. Didn't mean anything.
This morning I read the headline and tonight
I'm climbing to the roof, past locked
doors, the fraying welcome mats.
And if I should say beautiful when the sky
shoots with white shrapnel, it means
nothing, except there are lights
ricocheting above the kitchen windows,
and it is, it is.

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