Two Poems by Cassandra Dallett
The City In No Particular Order
In The City once a year it’s hot enough to ride the 5 Fulton to Ocean Beach
Where crashing surf eats sand by the mile
an undertow so hungry it pulls icy toes out from under you
you can only get more than a foot in if you are drunk ,drunk, drunk,
Malt liquor Mickey’s 40-ounce drunk and I got in to my shoulders that way once
a sensation colder than my whole snowy upbringing.
San Francisco is Buckwheat driving a cab through the Castro tourists in the backseat stare
as a man fucks another man against a tree pulls his dick out causing a shitty waterfall.
We were drunken teenagers skipping down Haight Street
Suzanne in the lead always climbing to the top of light poles and teetering on the edges of cliffs
she was carrying a Mylar balloon that night
lost it around Clayton in front of the fruit stand
it flew right up into Muni lines
sparks rained down and store windows fell into darkness
roaring and cheering we ruled the city.
All those times we had to fix the glass front door
all those bodies launched through it drunk and desperate to feel
slamming the gate shaking the flat calling down to Johnsons
and scraping up the money to replace the glass again, like Suzanne kicking and screaming
that she wasn’t scared that she would fight us all.
Once in a flat down on San Jose Ave. we had to pull Danny Lucky off her
his teeth entrenched in her forehead
Once I left them in my room while we went to the radio station
late night for the metal hours we returned deep in Jack Daniels
and found every poster lopsided furniture upside down
Danny and Suzy more into killing each other than fucking.
My City was Bags the Skinhead,
I shaved my head traded squeaky combat boots for Doc Martin’s and braces
circled the block all day long to stay near him
on my knees bent over at parties blacked out in alleys trying to get closer
when we were alone we talked and fucked all night
did speed in the pink palace went back to my place
caused an uproar with my roommates
alone at night I crossed my fingers asked God
to make him love me make me his woman
tall muscled tatted,
drunk enough he played his flute and I followed.
I walked home alone a lot, beer cans hurled from cars through Fillmore
I took dangerous routes on purpose the city was mine.
Three a.m. a guy walked out of the Palladium and punched me dead in the face
And just kept walking probably thought I was a dude standing there
bald headed drunk daze on my way to the pit to drink more.
In San Francisco I sat at Hamilton Recreation watching my boyfriend Dre
play Basketball. My hair grown out blonde still wearing fishnets from the old days
but sucking candy sticks and trying to act all cute and sassy like the black girls.
I was his girl we rode the bus on dates. I wore a letterman jacket and Reeboks.
We drank milkshakes and rocked Stan Smiths. He claimed me.
We beat the fuck out of each other his feet and fists crushing me.
His flesh under my nails, breaking me, holding keys scaring his face,
him chasing me, me chasing him, me filling sunglasses with tears black eyes
Him spending his first night in jail after they led him out, left me unrecognizable pile of purple bruises.
My first night in jail, Cookie was one of my cellies, brown scars covered her limbs
she called it staph she was Greek had a lived a life more than heroin
but you couldn’t tell by looking at her. I was a kid who’d never changed in a locker room never got dressed for gym,
flunked in fact, stood in dirty water naked like everyone else.
They called me Brooke Shields. Hey Brooke what you in here for a B case huh?
Prostitution was always assumed I was white and not strung out what else could it be,
Jail freed me,
Ocean Beach Babylon
(For Brad 5/9/1970-4/23/2012)
When I stopped doing drugs
my friends were just getting started.
Fighting in their underwear over needles and dope
in the day light of our front door.
from the top of the stairs
I scream at them to shut the fuck up.
I worked all night on phone sex lines
and I‘m just trying to sleep.
Brad screams back at me calls me a bitch,
says, it’s no wonder that my boyfriend
beat the shit out of me.
“A nigger” that’s what he calls me.
his face is a mask of dope and sickness.
I’m already down my“boyfriend” just stomped me
into the ground while saying he loved me.
I don’t speak to Brad for years.
He goes to jail then prison,
violates parole every eighteen months,
and spends close to a decade behind bars.
I forgive and live, but I never forget.
That early morning scuffle on the stairs
how quickly he turned on me.
Me, trying to keep it all together,
rent paid and the phone on.
Brad was once my best friend,
he was even a boyfriend.
Stood on his tip toes the first time we kissed
at a party, his girlfriend scared of me,
the big skinhead girl.
We were thrown down two flights of stairs
by the bouncers, for drinking straight from the keg,
and stealing the donations.
We left his girlfriend there
and got stung by bees hiding from the cops in Golden Gate Park.
Fucked on the roof of Chinese Projects
staring drunk and cold over the twelve story edge.
Defying gravity we tried to sleep up there
made it home on the bus where he stayed with me
till he went to Log Cabin.
When he escaped he went with my best friend
but it was cool
he was one of us and he went out with all of us over the years.
At parties me or him always got in a fight
swinging through the crowd to the other’s side
We were 86d from everywhere.
We shared blonde hair, high cheekbones,
and something that ate at us
from the inside out.
Six years after the stairs Brad called me up
“I heard you wanted to talk but I didn’t believe it” He said.
He was an ex-con, tattooed“Dirty White Boy” across his back.
From segregation back to our yellow crew
of half black and Chinese babies.
I always dated black guys had even left him for one.
I never knew where that left us,
cause he had to do what he had to do
on the inside and I understood that.
We got together,went out to the beach.
We sat on the wall, drank,
told stories of the old days
History ate at us like the waves ate the sand.
At nightfall bonfires lit the beach
We were sure we’d find the heads and the parties of our past.
Instead the clumps of bodies
we eased into were dry
fire warmed faces grilling hot dogs, popping sodas.
Church groups, they invited us to join,
Back in the day it would have been Sunset Pods,
Head bangers or skins lighting up the beach,
scattering from cops searchlights.
Our adventures had been stolen and replaced
with the squeaky clean church folk.
It was tragic and scary,
or maybe we were.
invited us to church
cause our asses needed to be saved