so darling, sit under this tree
that protected you from the pelting stones
grey skies looming overhead
they can't scare you
you have emerald knights
wish for them to stop you
in the name of needing some thrill
you know the rope wasn't a swing
i see you dug a hole
a void to throw all these memories away
in the shadows of this tree
secrets shall be kept
and as dark clouds loomed by,
branches desperately flailed
keeping out the acids in vain
the waters wrapped itself around you
why were you smiling?
you weren't the memory meant to be thrown away.
I came and then I came to
And all those things I said about you
Maybe that's why I'm here
He thought, while the darkness around him swallowed him both physically and spiritually.
Tonight didn't end quite like I thought they would
Endings taking the form of sea men being shanghaied into the nearest boat
No alcohol this time
Just pure ambition, or the lack thereof
Writing is the only thing keeping me up
That and spiritual distress brought on by the royal we, man
[insert pop-culture reference]
Unsure if you'll read something that was truly meant or me
And the hypocrisy that I find when lambasting someone for using the Internet as their diary, when I do the same, but cleverly disguise it as poetry
This is block text with no form.
There is no rhyme scheme nor is there timing.
It is horrible keeping a secret from a loved one as each day passes by,
The depth of the pain runs deeper each time I lie,
As I look into your eyes,
In my head I say, "I Love you and I am sorry."...
I am sorry for the lies that I have to keep spewing to you,
But I know you...I have known you my whole life,
And the facts will cut through your heart like a searing knife.
So I continue to cloud your mind to keep you at ease,
Because it would literally kill me to watch you cry on your knees.
I do it because I love you and you are everything to me.
And I do it because I appreciate everything you have done and given to me.
So I will continue to do things that I know in my heart is not right.
I am not a saint nor a devil, but I will continue to be your bright and shining knight.
I wish there was an easier way to my real life story,
Therefore again I will say, "Mom I love you and I am Sorry."
The Rogue Poet
February 26th, 2013
Yo’ Wassup Niggaz!
Big shout out to my moms -- love you, my crew – keep it real homies, my bidnit manager -- Happy Passover yo’ – don’t choke on no Matzah bitch or you’ll be out 18 percent. And a special shout out to my fans whose mail keeps on comin and keep my spirit up. Love all yo’! Word.
I try keeping busy here in the tombs. I was moppin before but the Aryan Bro’s stuck my head in the bucket of dirty water and sodomized me with the mop handle. Dat’s cool. Dat’s cool. I believe in karma, Mohammed and Jesus. And one of those motherfuckers will get even for me. ‘Payback is mine,’ sayeth the Lord (of the Rings).
I now works in the libary and been hittin the law books heavy. I tink we got grounds to declare a mistrial cuz that Judge knew Clity Li intimately and didn’t recuse himself. Every Tuesday he’d meet with Clity in chambers. He ‘d dress up like Little Bo Beep and Clity would spank his ass wit the shepherd’s staff ‘til he yelled ‘Baaaaaah, Roe v. Wade is bullshit’. That was their safe word. Shi’, tat Nigga be crazier than a mule on loco weed.
Yo’, Clity and the Judge be into all sorts of kinky shit. I know dis cuz Clity’s pimp, Johnson B. Johnson III, is in my cell block. They couldn’t get him for pimpin so they railroaded his black ass on some fabricated shit, like shooting 13 people with an AK-47 from the rooftop of City Hall. As Johnson tells it, it was self-defense. Eventually, he would have robbed those people and those people would’ve shot him. His Jew lawyer, Felix ‘the Cat’ Frankfurter, handed the Judge a copy of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ and ask that it be written into the record. The Judge got technical on his ass, saying some shit like “we live in a time of peace and military law does not apply.” Frankfurter, who was on a roll, said “Then explain Guantanamo.” Judge threw that Hymie in jail for contempt and shit.
Johnson told me, dat on Wednesdays Clity would meet the Judge in the men’s room of the Holiday Inn. He said Wednesdays was the Holiday Inn’s 2-for-1 Strawberry Daiquiri Extended Happy Hour and their special slosh night. Clity would take out a lemon meringue pie her auntie would bake her, lift the Judge’s robes and shove it up his nappy ass and slosh it round and round his balls like she be waxing my Benz Karate Kid style. She’d then dish out a lesson on the Judge’s bottom with a silver plated cake server she got as a wedding gift and thought she’d never find a use for. On Wednesdays their safe word was “Hmmmmm, Sara Lee, Inc. v. Ralph Nader Consumer Council is bullshit.” That Judge is wack!
Gotta go, now. Pig says I got visitors. A’ight. Later.
Just Watchin the Clock (rap song)
Nakedness and manifestations of the white noise mind traffic,
I watch the world turn before the fabricated glory of torches without flames and chariots without horses,
All saturated with the molecular movements of the air made with melodies not played for You,
This is the concrete sea of gasoline’s grace of novelties I once spoke of when I was a prince of sleepless men and my heart was determined to germinate the seeds of wicked kings,
Now with a crown cast down and cracked,
I am a dystopian eclipsing a dying sun to cast shadows on sleeping silent sinking houses,
As I watch them go down to where I've made my bed before,
I recall how they make me turn in my sleep before You,
Keeping keys deep below bowing floorboards whining with the weight of weeping willows grown by ghosts of a life once sewn and patched by my pity of distorted desperation,
My fingers keep my dreams from unraveling,
Locking them up tight tonight by hiding my face from it all,
Closing my eyes with my palms,
My lamps are bathed in blackness,
Darkness covers darkness,
And then I feel your hands lower the veil,
I see holes made by instruments of death forged in time,
Scarring You in a place that Kronos nor Thanatos cannot consider to tread,
I put my fingers through them,
I remember now that you paint such beautiful pictures,
Color me with your dreams now,
Your pigments have been poured out,
A gift was given to the dust,
Now I live to give it back to you,
And the haunted fluorescence of Babylon grow dim before your face,
The orchestral cries of mans machines grow silent,
Deep touches deep,
Sharing the oceans between us,
A love infinite consumes me
Through the years of transparent existence, a void of illusion becomes apparent and slowly becomes nothing more than a side-show. The dribbling glimpses of truth fade like the bones of old. No man can create such an indentation in the mold of space and time that the observers at the end of eternity will render their imprint upon the infinite gaian consciousness and body of universal proportions of any significance. Even the earth laughs at such ridiculousness. The ego is a strong bind - it can create maya and attachment to such fantasies easier than a bear can find it's ideal location for a winter hibernation. It's a world of craziness, where nobody knows whats going on.
The man woke up from his deep slumber. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Squinting, he looked around, studying his surroundings and taking mental notes. His thoughts are dirty scribblings on a subway wall. His heart is beating, searching for a band to play in rhythm with. His soul is aching from loneliness and desire. His feet lifelessly surrender their position up on the couch and find the floor, shrieking from the cold of the linoleum. His presence is that of a bird with a broken wing still attempting to fly. He stands up and stares at the ceiling.
The room is small. Four walls of white, one window and one door. The window looks out over the grey city. The door leads into another room - the room most would call a kitchen. In the small room before the kitchen, there is only a couch and a blanket. No lamp. No television. No electricity. No electricity in the entire apartment. The kitchen holds no refrigerator, no oven, no toaster, no pantry. It's called a kitchen because that's what it would be if somebody else was living in the apartment. There are two bananas on the floor along with a box of wheat flake cereal. No milk, no bowl, no spoon. The bananas are almost entirely rotten. The box of cereal is on its side, leaking bits of wheat flake, resembling a dying soldier on a battlefield who's losing all his blood through the wound on his neck rather than a box of the West's favorite morning go-to breakfast.
The man is observing the cracks on the ceiling, along with various stains with no known origin to him. His eyes dart from one corner of the room to another to another to another and back to the first. Spiderwebs. Dust. Decay. A perfect example of life's ability to take care of itself. Biodecomposition. When no one is around to look after a house, over time, Nature will take over it. Vines will grow and overcome the walls. Rain will fall and wear away the roof and general structure. Winds will blow, taking blindshots at the weakened building, eventually cause it to fall. Nothing lasts forever. Everything goes back to where it came from.
The man now steps into the "kitchen", where he begins to study the stains on the ceiling in this room as well. His mind is electric, with no thoughts in the usual sense, but rather just a vague presence of void to help the ceiling stains feel important. He is the space through which everything around him can exist to their fullest potential. After a measureless amount of time, the man walks over to the sad bits of food on the far side of the small room. He picks up one of he bananas and studies it. He feels where it came from. The tropical skies and smells and earth of Costa Rica. There's a little sticker on the banana that says so. Each bit of fruit in the markets nowadays are individually stickered...for prosperity, one can only assume. Though it's best to never assume anything, and instead be open to everything - afterall, anything is possible, at any time. Likelihood and probability are also important factors in the universal constitution of existence. What was the likelihood that this man, when he was a little child, figured he'd be holding a rotten banana from Costa Rica in his hand inside of a kitchenless kitchen? Who knows? The man wouldn't be able to recall his thoughts from early childhood - he barely remembers waking up and experiencing the chilling sensation of early morning linoleum. In any case, everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be, for it wouldn't be if it wasn't meant to be.
He slowly peels open the banana peel to reveal this brown, soft mush of tropical fruit. Just the way he likes it - soft enough to chew with his toothless mouth. He takes his time consuming the fruit, savoring every particle. After a good bit of time, the fruit is gone and all the man is left with is the peel. He takes another good look at the peel, once again imagining where this particular banana came from. Then, in two swift bites, he devours the entire peel - sticker included. He figures the sticker came from Costa Rica as well, and thus must carry that Costa Rican tropical vibe of health and longevity. His eyes then focus on the wheat flake cereal lying next to the other rotting banana. He bends down and picks up the box. The box is upside down when he picks it up and so the cereal spills out all over the area of the "kitchen" floor that seems to be dedicated to eating food. The remaining banana is now covered in wheat cereal.
The man drops the box back onto the floor and takes a seat alongside of it. His fingers hold his face from drooping onto his knees. His knees are keeping his torso from melting onto the floor. He screams with no sound. The pains of existence seep through his hollow eyes and into the receptors of his soul. He screams with no sound. He’s as empty as the American Dream.
The cobwebs are spreading from the corners of the room and are aimed for the human form sitting in the “kitchen” screaming silence with all his might. The cobwebs grow. The commuters of the city highway are commuting. A thousand birthday celebrations are being had. A thousand people sexually uninhibited, joyously seizing the moment in disgusting miraculous unity of mortal physical desire. Junkies are roaming the street for their morning fix. Teaching are teaching their students absolute lies. Governments are stealing the lives of billions and counting. And the cobwebs are growing, encompassing entire walls. The the ceiling. Then the floor. Then they crawl up the lifeless legs of the man who sits screaming in silence and the spiders overtake his body. They stitch his mouth shut and close his eyes with their spun proteinaceous spider silk. The man withers into the wind of time and vanishes from the world without a single soul taking notice. Leaving nothing behind except an empty apartment, overdue rent, and a number in the system of Western Society. His spirit cries sorrowfully as it flees the clutches of molecular existence into the realm of eternity and space. Heaven. He made it. He looks down at the people of the world he just left and sings a pitiful song for them. He’ll see them again. Afterall, they are Him. And He is Them. His Heart, the Sun, burns as the world he left turns. The lessons He left are slowly being learned. One by one. But still, there’s a space between the atoms, between the cells. And that space can never disappear. Without it, there would be no point to the story. All would be one, as it is, and there’s be nothing to overcome. No triumph. Just an endless loop of bizarre beautiful experience and pattern.
There's a magnetism -
in the air, in the ground, in the eyes of the sun,
keeping gravity in check with the mind of the sun
to keep things in order with the heart of the sun -
outside of structure, inside of paradox -
circles, circles, circling the cosmos with blank maps and directionless compasses
Writing, writing, writing - to collect a volume of love and work and truth and play -
seeking nothing more than meaning, an answer to the eternal enigmas
- why? - how? - what is this? - who am I?
Coming up empty as a begger's hands
and as rich as the poorest soul inside the palace of enlightenment -
silent solitude in the meditation of the sun,
inner exploration through the thoughts of the sun,
exploiting the strength of the light of the sun -
all to gain a following of selfless knowers -
all flowing along the river empty endless,
holding together through the magnetism,
Praying for salvation come the other side of this life,
the Heaven, the Garden, the Utopian dream
The magnetism - unexplainable electron of consciousness -
the Universal It - the All in the One - the Whole -
the Source and the Body,
circles, circles, circling in orbit the mathematical patterns of Being,
within the question of the answer,
within the definition of "nothing", where nothing is still something -
Let gravity fall where it may, just as love hunts its prey
As law holds flaccid in the court of Cosmic Direction,
The hearts beat stronger during resistance than in times of rest -
pulled into existence past the veil of illusory doubt through magnetism -
That taste of creation, grand awesome beauty within delicate fingers,
playing piano silent in halls of endless imagination - infinity.
There's a magnetism - everywhere, there's a magnetism.
At least to me,
I have many personalities.
They fight and squabble in my brain,
But you believe it’s just a game.
When I talk to different people,
There seems to be a sense,
Because everything I say,
Doesn't always make sense.
Although some people who understand,
Find keeping all the personalities,
A quite difficult task,
Do you care to ask.
I guess I confuse myself,
Before I lose myself,
Especially when I’m by myself.
What’s the difference between the two,
Well why the hell am I asking you.
To the two year old baby,
trapped in the body of a 31 year old man.
To the young lovers keeping eachothers addiction alive.
To the boy who got kicked out of school at 6,
for being agressive.
To the kitten of my neighbours, throwing up worms.
To the lady in the supermarket, with new shades of blue on her face every week.
To the people in the bar, all escaping something else.
To the ginger girl who was never understood, just diagnosed.
I want to apologise in the name of everybody who did not love you as much as you needed them to.
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez room. It was not a heavy frost, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.
He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.
"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "Booze and Johnny Cash."
Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.
Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.
Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his ass would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.
Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.
Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.
"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.
Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"
"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.
"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.
"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.
"That's good, that's good."
"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.
"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, dirty dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.
"Take the dogs out to pee," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."
"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.
"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."
Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to pee. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.
"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.
Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.
A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.
On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.
There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.
After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."
He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.