A Sunday morning voice behind the door I hadn’t opened said she was selling the Socialist Review and asked if I wasn’t ready “to take up arms for the revolution.” I offered a dollar and the conversation turned to capitalism: she worked part time, didn’t vote, and spent her afternoons on the firing range taking practice shots at President Clinton. I’d never held a handgun, and she wanted me to learn. The workers were uniting, but I wanted coffee and the paper, no matter what the commandant said. I don’t believe in revolution, but I often want to let the stranger in. [End Page 188]
Flowers and Runaways
Street teens repeat the standard line: “Spare change for bud.” Who sleeps in the park, who sleeps in the suburb, the shirt’s the same, green day. You lived at Haight and Ashbury, the house without a gate, and stepped over junkies sprawled on the welcome mat, gloving your hand to retrieve their needles. Sunday mornings, hung over, you rolled out to buy coffee and bagels, but mostly to breathe the park air and soak up the fog, its democratic calm, what you shared with those teens beside the neighbor’s angel’s-trumpets, a pendulous bell that calls the eye to see and the mouth to taste its poison. [End Page 189]
Keith Ekiss is a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow. He is the author of Pima Road Notebook and the translator of The Fire’s Journey by the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio. Last year he was a Robert Frost Fellow in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.