• junkboat.mp33:03


orient of the east bay
main square named not for icon Lee
who fought the master Wong Jack Man then spread the better story
legend wrung from oaktown fib in ‘64
but unifier Lincoln
who championed the railroad and defended the immigrant’s claim
honored here for that more than the war
man spry seventy handstands facing east
elbows braced stare steady heels high against side pole of chin up bars
hears distant rhythmic patter drift outdoors from social center
couple frisky eighty ping pongs well worn paddles sharp as ever
feel faint gusts blow in off the bay and straight up Harrison Street
woman monkish ninety zens on bench by entrance shade of tree
prays on beads for children passing/ Buddha souls and bouncing feet
grandfather creaky sixty pushes swing with careful calloused hand
back bent from life of labor perfect angle present task
nods to sidewalk hustling father weary fifty late for work
who holds the door for father scruffy forty huffing sweating more
younger sharp dressed thirty watches from high window
sips from can of protein boosted tea
restless/ craving/ envious of priceless family hindrances
spies across the way hip girl twenty spraying art
paints a golden dragon mural overtop red dragon mural
faded chipped defaced in decades since re-touched by brush
commissioned then on re-erected after-earthquake wall
as part of new year’s celebration webster route parade
even mighty wild-eyed fortune blessing dragons fade
the community jewel is a junkboat
anchored in permanent port
steering wheels spinning in vain
rope ladders and curving slides spilling off all sides
three sets of sails of chain-linked wood to tease the gentle breeze
toddler crew amok from stern to bow
here the heart of panasiatown beats proud
as the future always sounds the preferred note
here what’s come and gone can peaceful rest
where saplings rise out of remaining roots
atop the sails are fastened metal flags
formed to mimic flapping in the wind
painted once but blazoned clean by sun
you’d have to strain to notice what’s been done
vandals in the night dared scale the masts
and etched across the flags some R.I.P.’s
markers for mateys lost at sea mid-journey
whose futures once were notes preferred as any
dragon drafts denied the chance to fade
I eat my lunch and squint to read the names