By the road she hovers in heat waves,
propped up on a cinderblock wall,
revived by mixed house paints,
fending for herself like wild mint.
She is behind your shoulder,
a blind spot, your city's poverty.
A figure waits under a freeway ramp,
gesturing as if she knows you.
The fences and lots have the same dogs,
peering through the chain-links, curious.
While at the hospital, you see kids play another
game of tag outside the emergency room doors
and know how fingerprints squander their ridges
and how digital minutes dry up under a glare.
A stump is all that is left of a surveyor's point,
a ponderosa pine in the foothills that started
the city's perfect grid.
The sidewalks of Baseline
need more than a grocery bag's empty belly,
plastic, a ripped-up flame standing and calling
out to an old preacher like yourself.
By the cameras
mounted on the street lights, you wonder
if they recorded the street sinking in the eyes
of the woman who died on a bus bench.
You pause in front of a freshly painted sign
that says "Wrong Way," and see a sign within
a sign, a resistance to the newest strip mall,
the black lettering unevenly spaced and painted,
a homespun warning to keep moving on.