It’s Cypress Hill vs. Depeche Mode
as the coffee shop dukes it out
with the open door of the bar next door.
Sunday night the rains have finally begun
so there are only a few determined hipsters
running from awning to awning.
The Vietnamese Christian owner
of the convenience store on the corner
is changing fluorescent bulbs
while his wife nervously clutches the ladder.
I used to buy wine with a picture of a frog
on the bottle from him, never did
learn his name. He'd taken over the store
when his brother was shot dead behind the counter
one Sunday afternoon. Ever since
they’ve been closed on Sundays.
I’m pretending this is my first time
visiting this neighborhood, pretending I didn’t
live here for nearly a decade
before being forced to move across town.
I’m a freshly minted tourist with no baggage,
no memories of spending time at that store,
that Lebanese restaurant, that sports bar
this coffee shop…all of them forming
the four corners of the apocalypse.
A pedestrian gives a friendly wave to the car
that almost hit her when she crossed
against the signal.
The graffiti in the coffee shop restroom
is the same, only there’s more of it,
all more advertising than art.
It must be 80s night in the bar,
Modern English and the Buzzcocks
make their rounds while the coffee shop
remains committed to playing the entire
Black Sunday album. I stare at the layers
of ripped and decaying band fliers on the pole
outside the window as a kid struts past
wearing a sweatshirt that reads 49th Annual
Nez Perce Nation Mens Basketball Tournament 2013.
I’ve never thought of Native Americans as being
particularly interested in basketball.
There are cacti in the window, a kid whose copy
of Paradise Lost sits next to his cell phone.
I couldn’t help myself andI walked by
my old apartment. They've repainted the building
and put in new windows and taken down the tree,
no one’s moved in yet, the stickers are still
on the glass, with rain covering everything,
and soon I'll go back across town
and tell them of the new land I've been visiting,
so different and yet so strangely familiar