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January 22nd, 2003

Sirens call me at two in the morning

An angry man shouts the gospel on the street
as I walk past him through the rain,
his theology lost in distance and poor acoustics.
I pass a twentysomething woman at the BART stop,
holding a cane as she sits on a flash-floodlet
sidewalk, counting small change she begged to get.

At night, when I sleep strangely in a strange place,
the whir of a siren breaks the rain-like drip, drip drip of
dreams that envelop me like the scent of strong coffee
percolating danger, brewing distant trouble.
When I walk beside people, whose lives
turned onto the highway with the bridges
some San Francisco earthquake destroyed long ago,

I feel myself shrink back, a bit, and I feel ashamed;
ashamed of living, in a sandwich wrapping bag,
so many miles away, so many eons apart,
in a universe where the sirens only sound
when some elderly soul has sounded some final, silent security alarm,
quietly whispering that it's time to take her home