D a v id H a d b a w n i k
<< Five Sonnets >>
Today I stole a book. The clerks were turned
away, I dropped it in my pocket, slipped
out the door, alarms inside my head burned
but didn't sound, although I nearly flipped
when later, leaving Cala's with a pack
of tortillas shoved under my arm
the manager carefully eyed my sack
but made no move to signal the gendarme.
I stole nothing this evening, but a glance
at the woman on the street who whispered
as we stood outside that she liked my pants
& since she smiled, I also took her word.
Then I came home, and quietly reflected
on the book, the food, the look that I'd collected.
Ask yourself why you think I was a jerk
when I loved you all those years the only
way I knew how, desperate & lurking
in the shadows sometimes, sometimes lonely
perhaps not the lover you had in mind
but that's the way it goes, baby doll, I
can't explain away all those unkind
gestures when I tried to mollify
your impatience with my unloverly style
my wicked denials remember that time
I drove the Mercury backwards for a mile
& Sonny had to push me out, the dimes
spraying from my pocket on the pavement
O God, it wasn't how I wanted them spent.
I've never questioned your love for me.
It's just there like socks or spare change
for the woman on 24th St. who's always
asking in that pitiful voice, please I need
to buy some white shoes for my job
she says or please I need a place to stay.
There's no shame in that. Or the rose petals
that quietly depend on it, stuck as they are
in clay pots out front of the florist
their red dye running on the sidewalk
on Sundays like tears on a lapel like
anything. I've never questioned your love
even when I reach into my back pocket
& nothing's there, not even my hand
"...because there is a wilderness to change us."
What Dale Smith wrote of Cabeza de Vaca
coming back to haunt me throughout the day
leading me into my own dark spaces,
fog skimming off the windows on gusts
of wind, restless at night I go for a drive
down busy Mission streets cut by Joe's Diner
neons, past Excelsior where I know
Diane lives, thinking of her new book
& then remembering Chris McCandless who
died of the wilderness he sought out
starved in a shack in Alaska. And I
buy some fries & a milkshake at drive-thru
McDonald's, get my change & go home
The pigeon on the roof next door
stared at me for an hour. I was
watching TV my hand down my pants
for no reason, wondering what it was like
to be a pigeon voyeur. I didn't
get up. The pigeon moved
eventually & I heard it cooing
somewhere. It was like overhearing an argument
that began in a coffeeshop ten years ago
between two lovers who don't
love each other anymore but can't
bear to break up. I took my hand
out of my pants.
I changed the channel.
David Hadbawnik is a San Francisco poet and writer
whose work has been published in Skanky Possum,
Cauldron and Net, and Electronic Poetry Review. He
co-produces the Moving Target Series -- a roving
showcase of performance, music, movement, and poetry
-- and performed most recently in SPT's Crosstown
Traffic series at CCAC in San Francisco. These sonnets
represent an ongoing project undertaken while studying
with poet Diane di Prima...