Thursday, September 8, 2011

Climbing Up Lombard

This was written in San Francisco in late September 2001, during my 15 minutes of fame, when Schrödinger’s Girlfriend was going into rehearsals at the Magic Theatre.

Again, not much to say about it, except that, in the echo of 9/11, it was impossible not to feel the thinness of the earth’s crust beneath my feet wherever I walked. And I walked everywhere.

Climbing Up Lombard

Climbing up Lombard--
watching the fog eat up the Golden Gate
and auto headlights vanish in a thick

mist like the smoke of a huge fire, marching
down from a world of battle to a shore
where seagulls preen and children skim flat stones--

the land clouds curl with the south wind. And in
my nose I smell asbestos, steel, the harsh
unmentionable odor of decay,

the smelling salts of devastation, which
once sniffed will always linger in the air
and wake you coughing from unconsciousness

even out here, in this determined city
which sits precariously on a fault,
balanced like a thin tabletop upon

the twin pillars of hope and ignorance.
This world is treacherous and sly--without
a moment's notice it can open up

and gulp us down, leaving no trace behind.
No matter where we go, we are such stuff
as meals are made on, and what we call life

is nothing but a brief and fog-bound loan
which will be called in when the only way
we can pay up is with all that we are

and all we build upon this shifting ground,
as one by one we march on through the mist,
mindful of where we have to step to keep

climbing up Lombard.

Copyright 2001 Matthew J Wells

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