Story for Night

But not a bedtime story because I’m not sleeping tonight
though the city is quiet, well, quiet for Los Angeles, humming faintly
in the background like an air conditioner that goes on for miles.
I walk the grey and orange-glowing streets
outside, punctuating insomnia with cigarettes, thin smoke
slipping into clouds like some chemical conversation
with the industrial zone, strands of molecules entwined.
The streets are damp like they’ve splashed their faces with water
to wake from nightmares about dog piss and jackhammers,
while the coffee shop is closing up for the night,
the last person walking out the front door, its hinges creaking
like that’s the only sigh it can manage.
Traffic lights’ buzzing clicks bounce against the quiet: red, yellow, green,
and I wonder if traffic lights are the electric Sisyphus of the world,
rolling their charge up the hill past robberies and car crash fatalities
and in the worst of times still blinking red, red, red,
like giving someone a beautiful rose every day,
each one blooming and aromatic and perfect.
But who wants to live in a world with romantic streetlights?
After all, it is our fucked up world that is perfect. I keep thinking
this evening is like a still-life I’d like to hold onto.
I want to keep it like flowers in cold water
and the wine from last weekend. I want to frame it
in something ornate and collect dust with its angles.
I want to hang it in my apartment so guests can stand
and see the world that always dies before sunrise.
But I know that in a minute, maybe two if I’m lucky,
this night scene and its citrus trees will fade into reality
and everything will change. In a minute or two,
everything will be different. I will be different.
So while there’s still time, while the air is still heavy like a blanket,
will you come out so we can walk together, self-conscious,
thinking about ghosts and the full moon?