We’re strolling in San Francisco
waiting for the returns
not wanting to wait for the bus
gawking at modern forty-niners
so young so white so tall
flush with hi-tech bucks
To stay in the game, to be seen
as taller, better looking, young forever,
they spend: here’s a store
uniquely devoted to eyebrows
another only for lashes
and upstairs, a toenail boutique.
A shop next block just washes hair
and gives it a blow—but
doesn’t cut or dye.
The neighborhood cinemas
are now gymnasia, the screens
replaced with floor to ceiling mirrors,
the ushers with trainers
to sculpt those geeky caffeinated frames.
We spot what looks like a toy store
and stop in, but it’s
the ultimate selfie emporium
they’ll make a 3-D full color resin replica of you,
or your dog, or this moment’s mate
a doll to display on the coffee table
of your studio apartment
it’s three times the length of your dick
and costs about one week’s rent.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the continent
the white but not-so-young, the passed-over
who could never hope to catch a cup
of the golden shower that trickles down
on the digiterati
are choosing their representative
entranced with a funhouse mirror
version of themselves, taller, huger,
a twisted strip
of imaginary was welded to will be,
a man who gazes at his life size portrait in oils
purchased with someone else’s money,
who is his own ultimate selfie,
who gobbles cash and excretes cruelty.
A long ride home. We return to our room, to sleep,
until we can know the judgment of morning.
And then it comes. Black smoke like burning tires
pours from the radio. The empire rose; the empire
will be destroyed. Despair!
And then we hear the piano—a neighbor’s child,
her fingers slow and tentative, stringing the notes together
her name—I don’t remember—perhaps it’s Tikva, or Nadezhda,
now her touch is surer
as she practices
the Ode to Joy.