The towns like petals, centers, clumps,
I call them towns, neighborhoods, communities,
municipalities, camelots, townships—
what do you call those things in California?
Unreal city Eliot would say,
and mayble Los Angeles is but
by the time you get to San Diego
—dropping straight through Orange County—
it’s a stew, a group, a cluster
of so many little pieces,
with freeways like so many tubers
that form the bed beneath the dirt
beneath the garden;
even Los Angeles isn’t Los Angeles
so much as it is the Valley
or Santa Monica—
so many little worlds
with only the freeway that rushes through
to even know of the outside world,
to even know that this little twenty square mile strip
isn’t everything there ever is,
isn’t in itself the world without end…

California approaches time itself differently:
a string of moments like links in a necklace,
a daisy chain of realities,
and as my mind flies over and
surveys it all indifferently, like a
pelican off the coast hunting for fish,
of course I think of you
of both of you really,
the two of you, one 24 and one 40;
it’s something about men and time…
time just happens to men
—not like women, who mark time with their bodies—
and when it just happens like that
it kind of never happens at all…

So alright, 24 or 40,
either one of you
could steal me away
without so much as a moment’s notice
to ride the freeways
in your car:
5, 805, 405, 10,
because I know that there
as I sit next to you
and as the road mixes dirt and grass and whatever is growing
into a perfume of motion,
and as we pass down that majesty
—human will visible from space, the American Great Wall—
I murmur the name of each town, like a prayer
when the passing freeway sign announces it;
next to you, there, the towns will be
that daisy chain
and honestly
I can tell you, even as the sun sets
it won’t ever end…