Daniel Marlin, Wild Cat Peak with Fog
Daniel Marlin, Wild Cat Peak with Fog

The Present Moment

First the plastic barbeque chair
By a door on the road curve
Declaring finally I'm here to watch
Then the bum with butt skin showing
Through the back of his pants as he ambled off
Then the Mexican women floating into
The Goodwill parking lot in a gold 280ZX
With the tiny god the happy fat brown boy
Finally the father and son doing the tandem
The latter with a little bounce
In the family stride
They all said this was Ukiah
Home of Masonite

All of a sudden a Chicano couple
Disembarked from a Mercury Lynx
And crossed the street called Main
The lady pregnant with the third beautiful child
The others--a maiden longhaired to her waist
The boy with a little rat's tail flapping
To balance archetype with modernity
All followed the future patriarch
Togged out in Caltrans-orange shorts
In the march to the Salvation Army store

In an afterthought of the hidden Deity
A '64 Monterey materialized down the street
And approached like a royal procession
Its tail-lights predating Madonna's halter
By at least twenty-five years
Meanwhile a teen cyclist sped closer
Braving the oncoming traffic and she kept her eyes on mine
As were mine on hers
I didn't look at her bosom until she was abreast
She seemed content with the exchange and
I was determined not to let Ukiah down

Then oh my God a spotless white Previa
Pulling into the spot up ahead
She'd been at the Goodwill and was on our trail
What has become of the Middle Class?
Don't know
I didn't notice her until now
l:23 by the battery-powered electronic miracle
Because you can't say everything at once
About life in Ukiah
So like the 24-hour emergency rooms
Run by Adventists
Whole city blocks east and west--
To manage it all
In the present moment
Would take elevators designed by Einstein
And the hand of Jesus
Just off the pure white hallways
Hitting letters and numbers
On the long-carriage typewriter
Hitting lightly without a pause
Like a good joyous Haiku
In the ears of angels outside
In parked cars
With no need for air-conditioning
Or concern with coins dropped in a meter

It shall be an Augustine town in August
City of God Ukiah
Ah ye Ukiah
How close you are O black Republican shadow
Of the wild blinding sun
And how far
Far from me
Though I'm with you this moment
In an old foreign car
That knows one direction
Back to the lost empty hills
So I can listen to the dry hay-grass rustling
In daylight

Click below to hear WJ Ray reading
"The Present Moment" with musical background:

Miles Davis, "So What", Kind of Blue, Sony, 1997

or Click here to Download Mp3

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