3 Oildale Poems

Updated on December 19, 2017


The man with the walking stick

is standing on the sidewalk in front

of the McDonald's

near the trailer court

filled with empty tin shacks

along McCord Avenue.

He waves to the woman

pulling a green suitcase

as if she were boarding a plane to

Morroco, South America or the Great White North.


Domestic turbulence


cellophane cigarette wrappers

fast food.

Buildings with green crosses,

and abandoned shopping carts

The Oildale Depot.

Smoke rises in the air

from his cigarette

and mine as I stand by my car

watching the woman walk down the sidewalk

as if she were leaving for somewhere or

leaving something behind.

Her short black hair

bouncing almost

as if swaying in the wind

and her hand rising

and anticipating the man with the walking stick

as he jaywalks

through the rapid traffic

on the avenue in front of the

auto repair shop

and internet cafe gambling hall's

active sign

almost neon light

rising above the neighborhood

like an airport control tower.

The two embrace and smoke

rises above them

the way tiny clouds

envelope the mountains

in the Andes, or the Golden Gate Bridge

far away

but the two stand still

in the streets of Oildale.

The Missing Window

When the man on the bicycle

approaches me

I think of a polite response

No not today


I don't carry cash

or pretend to be hard of hearing

or have difficulty with the English language.

Have you seen my car he says

and I wonder if he means a toy

a cart he was pulling with recyclables

and he tells me about

the Ford with the broken window.

I've called the police he says and

they put out

he struggles for the letters and i say

a p b

and he says yes but thats it

and that someone took it

and his green Ford Impalla

with the back window tore out

he starts to say and this was all

the beginning and then huffs and shovles

off into the alley

his fingers were dirty and fresh scar

rode up the index finger on his left hand.

he had been in the same clothes for more than a day

and looked terribly tired.

I was ashamed of my moment of almost panic

and though to keep a look out

for Fords with missing windows and told him so.

i thought for a minute

if it was his house as well

and how he became to be relieved of his shelter

and wondered about the other actions

which happened after the start of his day

and sat back in my car

thankful for my windows

my clothes and the roads I could

navigate down through

the cold

and the rain.

Chester Avenue

I pull up past the car wash talkers

holding up signs and a photograph of a child.

Two of them are shaking rags in circles

as if they are trying to defy the laws of gravity

and another

a young female

struggles to break the sound barrier

with her cacophony of

donations donations donations.

I feel the change jingle in my pocket as I

park in front of the mobile sign shop

next to the glass door and walled building

with white blinds


I walk into the back and talk to the woman

who reminds me of the pictures of

Appalachian folks I saw in grammar school

when i lived on the east coast

of the United States

and know that although she probably

never saw the eastern mountain ranges

she is of the same breed.

As well as the other denizens in

the darkly lit room

most sitting in front of computer terminals

none of the typing.

She slips me a piece of paper and gives me a

look i know well

and I look for a seat in the dark room

a few sounds like a video arcade

behind me.

Can you smoke in here

someone asks

NO says the woman who was behind the counter

and is now standing

in the middle of the room

doing her rounds

and then she pauses

says quietly


Two women are sitting in the same chair

someone brings a dog in

and it sniffs the floor

walks under the rolling chairs


another voice speaks


to no one in particular

hes a cop.

I think he's a cop.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Liam Finnegan


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