drab and soggy. tattooed and forty.
sitting under a bridge
as you sit in the front seat with the heat on,
imagining that stained color of beige.

and that kid in eighth grade
that showed up to science class
drunk almost every morning.

and the boy who never got picked up
after fourth grade
but he always waited -

the sun went down
on him in the winter time.

and there was a girl
in tenth grade
sitting unproductively in the weight room
idly describing
anal sex;
and the rediscovery of
the drugs of the 60s
felt new
for a little while.

at least for some people.

eleventh grade: cigarette burns.
and sitting in the back
of fifth grade english
and overhearing stories that didn't make sense
until the summer after seventh grade.

there was a bedroom.
or a couch.
cars came later.
so did the girl who got an abortion.
at least that's what you heard.
sometime around the heyday of the pager
(coke dealers).
dropping out of life
right before ninth grade
when it was all supposed to get good.

and that boy who almost killed himself
trying to make weight.
probably tenth grade.
apparently he did
commit suicide
wrestling struggles.

and now there are big words for what was only life.
and emotional
and physical
and psychological abuse
were trivial or childish or second semester.
and the fight because of the asshole
straight edge guy with the kind of tattoos
sixteen year olds can get.

and there was friday at lunch
someone brought up the spanish teacher
who would have been called a rummy
if hemingway ever got a hold of him.

but the kid in the library lived in another world.
pages covered up enough scars
to keep the school therapist
from doing too much.

not that they ever did too much.

the smell of marijuana
became familiar one day - the stealing never did.
southern california
always felt too enclosing for that,
safe is a misrepresentation,

but the sun shined too bright.

until it all looked overexposed
and washed out
and it all dimmed
because your eyes hurt,
and then the dude under the bridge made sense.
infections that never healed.
insurance unpaid.
track marks.
roads and roads and roads
of track marks.

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