The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday and Beach Golf


California
By Rafael Campo

I used to dream of living here. I hike
a trail I know that at the end opens

to glorious views of the city I did
live in once, when men my age kept dying

while I learned how to diagnose AIDS.
Some dreams don’t come true, and some dreams become

nightmares. Across a field that smells of sage,
a few horses loiter. I want to think

that they forgive me, since they’re noble creatures.
They stamp and snort, reminding me they know

nothing of forgiveness. I used to dream
that someday I’d escape to San Francisco,

when I was still in high school and I knew.
Tall and muscled, the horses are like the jocks

on the football team who beat me once, as if pain
teaches truth and they knew I had to learn.

I used to dream I was as white as them,
that I could slam my locker closed and not

think of jail. Some nightmares come true,
like when my uncle got arrested for

cocaine. My family never talked about it,
which made me realize they could also feel shame.

That’s when I started dreaming I could be
a doctor someday, that I could get away,

prescribe myself a new life. Right now, as
the city comes into view, I think of those

animals and hope they got what they deserved.
The city stretches out its arms, its two bridges

to Oakland, to Stockton, to San Rafael,
to Vallejo; places I could have been from

but wasn’t. It looks just as it did
all those years ago. Yet I know it’s changed

because so many of us died, like Rico,
who took me up here for the first time.

We kicked a soccer ball around and smoked
a joint. I think we talked about our dreams,

but who can remember dreams. I look out
and the sun like your hand on my face

is warm, and for a moment I think this is
glorious, this is what forgiveness feels like.

--------

My Wednesday was pretty quiet apart from chatting at lunch with my two good friends from elementary school (art, bread-making, family stuff) and walking in the gorgeous weather; it's been a good week for seeing deer in the woods. Plus there was a new episode of The Masked Singer, which, despite a judging panel and host of whom I loathe 3/5, keeps me very happy every week.

Then I watched the debate, much of which I spent shouting at the screen (more than half, since Pence kept bullying the moderator and talking well past his time which Harris was stuck not bullying back because we all know the double standard to which women, especially women of color, are held if they come on too strong. Mini-golf courses from Delmarva last weekend:

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