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Slake: Los Angeles—A Man’s Rebaptism in a Town Called Jesus Cares —A City And Its Stories

A Man’s Rebaptism in a Town Called Jesus Cares

By John Waldman

I moved here at my daughter’s urging
to spend my remaining days
living a churchgoer’s life. Here
where dawn is a wicker couch
shod in boiled wool slippers.
Where the purple martins and Mexican fruit bats
loiter in octagonal homes
perched on a single stilt in each yard.

Within the week of my arrival
a man from the Pop-a-Lock changed my flat
when the sidewall on one of my Goodyears
split like the peel on an ornamental orange.
On my way home I saw my son-in-law
teetering on the porch of Billy’s Bar
or was it La Kantina?
surveying the ragged lawn like a shepherd.

At my daughter’s urging I am here
to tie up the strings on a life of advocacy,
outrage, infidelity, and dereliction.
To live at half-mast
under an empty billboard
on a porch of green metal chairs
and a monthly recipe of medication
costing the same as the mortgage, twofold.

In this grave time that is no time for sleep
that is no time for the ledger of one’s life to be rendered illegible
I stare like the boy who saw a thousand eclipses
projected on the sidewalk
when the light from a single passing scattered
through a jigsaw of cedar leaves
or close my eyes to count the paper boats of my dreams
drifting like moths on a surface of blue light.

This article was originally published in Slake No. 3 To read all of the stories from that issue, purchase or subscribe at shop.slake.la.

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