Poet's Choice: Hollyhocks in the Fog by August Kleinzahler

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The first third or so of this poem was written 28 years ago, here in San Francisco, in the same apartment I'm in now. I was never quite happy with the rest of it and only recently figured out how I might complement those earlier lines. The "hook" or "event" precipitating the resurrection and completion of the poem was the -- to me -- strange phenomenon of the big black Google bus at the foot of the block every morning and evening, picking up Google employees, then dropping them off at night. The rest is, I hope, self-explanatory.

(To see this poem without interruption, press the Print button in the Toolbox. -- The Editor.)

Hollyhocks in the Fog

Every evening smoke blows in from the sea, sea

smoke, ghost vapor

of lost frigates, sunken destroyers.

It hangs over the eucalyptus grove,

cancels the hills,

curls around garbage sacks outside the lesbian bar.


And every evening the black bus arrives,

the black Information bus from down the Peninsula,

unloading the workers at the foot of the block.

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