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"Pacific Surfliner" Now Arriving San Diego

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The Santa Fe Depot's Moorish architecture of displacement—
squeaky kids trawl satchels through the shed, happy voices
mystically far from home, the waiting room's fizzled, tiled light
of life lived imperfectly between one where and another.
Everybody's here. Cowboys, Mennonites, Tijuana illegals,
Muslim cabbies at prayer on loading docks as dark clouds
fuss above the southerly sun past its prime.

Killing time, a life mostly miscues and hesitance,
I want something to take me over so looked for you
near the baggage claim's glide, who could have been
anybody from everywhere, like Ellis Island's ghosts,
their dump of cardboard valises, bindles, baby-fat sacks
strangled by hemp, and around me here long-haul lovers who
in sleepers last night loved to exhaustion. Scorched roughnecks,
perfumed girls in heels grabbing Samsonites and golf bags
schooling the carousel's louvered U-turns and straightaways.

It must be why I'm here, to wait and see who claims
what looks too much like your brown suede duffel,
no "Antigua" or "Cancun" decaled in its hide,
nasal music threading the scene while tonight you weave
through songs somewhere else. That floppy bag and us—
the Garment District, two Venices, South End, South Philly,
scraped nap, brass clips, gaunt warmed handle. . .
A teenage girl two-hands it off the belt and waddles
into the runny sun, your bag five years late
thumping freshened thighs and dimpled knees.
Where are you now that you're here again for me?
Hear these thrilled voices,
                                       the engine horn howling?
                                                                                 Smell these acid residues?

Source: Poetry (March 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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"Pacific Surfliner" Now Arriving San Diego

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