3 Oildale Poems
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.
cellophane cigarette wrappers
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
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
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
but the two stand still
in the streets of Oildale.
The Missing Window
When the man on the bicycle
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
and the rain.
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
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
Can you smoke in here
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
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.
© 2017 Finn Liam Cooper