Poem: Zero to Eighteen

Josh Escobar/Staff

The wind slides under the asphalt, and then mixes dirt with guiltiness everyday. The news gets taken in like a rug dried by sunshine. The wind takes the wheel as gravity pulls cars towards the ocean or the high desert. Pets in backyards get worn out looking for lesser evils: vermin, sunny mines, wrapping paper. The wind tires of itself. My little niece tells me to hide. “I’m counting.” Banco, sandia, a que hora loteria. Slover has everything—gas stations, massage parlors, Juan Pollo—everything. Little pay, little mercies. Little arcades, little sexiness. No traffic. Advertisements of yesness. The sun shrugs us off. Mom makes coffee. No one can care about me. Weddings, bars, swarms of shopping carts are along Sierra, as if it’s secretly Mexico.

Everyday my friends watch me ditch them in the nick of time.

Everyone goes around with magical parasols, not helmets.

The mall slam dunks heartache.

Wrecked calories drop kick din smoggy throes lying in my friend’s trunk.

Barking bored pulpit striped down to the wire on hatless Sundays.

Fugitive snail knows what’s up.

Nothing can be twice as good. Check box.

Weighed a beach yesterday until the equipment washed away. Check box.

Getting off the 10, the lost become foreigners instantly. Check box.

Passengers open their mouths. Afraid, they say nothing, and yet old air still comes out. My family bails me out shortly after I run away. I relate to my hamster spinning. My hamster will set me on fire one day.

I had a problem with life so I went down to the store to return it. The people there were nice. They took it back. The only thing that would have made me cooler is if my hair was slicked back and I lit a cigarette. I compare myself to anyone that finishes in second like it’s all part of the process, I tell my friend in the rain. It’ll happen again. I’m made in LA. Slack shed sociopolitical face maze. Schedules as territorial as ducks, effing ducks. I make love the easy way.

I am sorry, brother. I left seven messages before last year’s self-portraits started melting. Good things happen to me, too. I’m afraid. Things will pan out. Traffic moves freely. NASCAR season begins. Every cool hero goes into retirement. I turn around and you’ve changed again. I’m an upstate starfish, OP to the max. Pastor warned me, Jesus won’t stop ringing my doorbell. I jokes but no delivery. I’ll hand them to a friend, who turns such things into cash. I can do anything, but not as well as the same thing over and over.

Semis travel like a long and overly realistic love letters. Dude gets “woken up by trees.” Engines fire up and down the coast like cleanup magicians imported, real quality stuff, from Manila, Honduras, Bloomington. He told me when it was too late because it was too late. Break up hill pit haircut every day of the week. A hanging guava appeals to the old garage door. Jaded field after jagged shack after futuristic trash. Textbook penicillin fries eyed by high-tech pigeons looking for the right size. Dizzy washed up alder.

Everyday the sun rides down the same roads, flat and full of mistakes. Everyday the wind bangs on the shield side of things. Feliz shuffles her deck of cards. Drive-thru, grey fangs, blue cars. Sweep the hills. They’re already ours.

Josh Escobar studies in the MFA program at Bard College and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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