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"and sometimes writer friends / would quote Kerouac / and his California dispatches"

Published onApr 25, 2019

there is a small hill near my father’s home
in San Antonio where a single
lamppost spreads a golden circle
into the night just barely catching
all four corners of the silent
residential intersection, all homes
dark, all streets empty, palms
and salt grass cutting jagged edges
into the midnight dark, reminding
me of same such quiet walks in
Los Angeles towns in outlying
hills, of the sunsets in San Francisco
too, and sometimes writer friends
would quote Kerouac
and his California dispatches, but
on any given night when words appear
through the midnight filter, I am
there on that small hill
with the orange dome over the far
downtown San Antonio skyline,
a color matching my lamppost sanctuary,
with a breeze that comes
and dies with a cat watching
from the darkened alley
and then car headlights cut through and
footsteps take me to where the city fades
beneath the wild oak canopy, the
dark of life taking hold again,
sending me home with whispers
and enticements of bars and women,
of scars and laughter and loneliness,
of traffic in the distance and leaves on the ground,
a dead city jazz playing for you and me

Reprinted from the book Dead City Jazz with permission.

James H. Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of Feral Kingdom, Nights Without Rain, and We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, among other collections of poetry and fiction. He is a former editor with Writer’s Digest, a columnist for FIVE:2:ONE and he writes reviews of independent bookshops at his blog, The Bookshop Hunter.

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