Jasper Nighthawk

REPORT FROM A COASTAL CITY


They call this city PL90
Port+Lymph. Founded year 90.
Everyone calls it Plenty

A SCHOOLCHILD SONG
When you go to Plenty, 
first you smell the trash,
then you smell the sea,
then you smell the barns,
then you smell the dogs,
then you smell the trucks,
then you smell the durian,
then you smell the tar,
then you smell the rain,
...................
then you smell the people,
each body a flower.

Children chant and clap, one by one
adding as many smells as they can 
before the final, venerable, inevitable verse.

A reception in the whitewalled poet-home
turns to dance-till-dawn thumpsong.

The roamed dawn streets are not empty
but full of tents and leatherskin men
who dare not sleep in the night.
Workless. Unbathed. Drugsick. Boozesick.
One truncheoned by a lazy night watchman
bleeds by a bus stop. 
Red seep stains sandy tan sidewalk.
An orange eyeball sunrise over apartments.
The bus comes and goes.

Redfeeling, smell of sweat, 
ears ringing, eyes stinging
is the way of PL90.

***

Jasper Nighthawk is a writer, teacher, and designer. His writing has appeared in Joyland, Juked, 7×7, Lunch Ticket, and Your Impossible Voice. It also appears in Lightplay, his free email newsletter. He works as the University Storyteller of Antioch University. He has an AB from Harvard College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch Los Angeles. He lives in Los Angeles and on the Mendocino Coast with his partner and their cat. 

Jasper Nighthawk’s Website