Their bodies lay downtown on the slab
that is the L.A. River bed, twined together
as if on a picnic or making out in their tent
up on the bridge’s sidewalk. One of the urban
campers, a guy whose face looked pecked
apart by birds and burned from a chemical
peel gone bad, said the Santa Ana winds
had howled toward the coast all night.
The same winds I heard drove meek housewives
to murderous rage back in the ‘30s. This guy
scratched at his face, said his name was William
Duke of Normandy. He said, maybe the winds
blew them off the bridge when they rushed to save
the bags of cans and bottles that made up a day’s
work. A shame as they were engaged and hoped
to be married before the fall. Some wiseass lookie
loo laughed – who knew the homeless got engaged?
Like they were a band of chimps or something.
Why wouldn’t they? I turned to look to see who
said it, but all I saw was a mob of faces
who all looked like me. When you hit bottom
there’s nowhere to go but up, unless
it’s the bottom of a dried out river, cutting
through the shadow of city hall. This is the stuff
nightmares are made of, kiddo. What hard
wind will blow you down when you’re in love?
I surveyed the crime scene, all those who
could bear witness deposed and idling along
the sidewalks, packing up tents and bags
and shopping carts as per city ordinance.
I closed my notebook on the case of the lovers
fallen to earth like two stars. I wanted to find
a real cup of coffee and made to leave when
The Duke asked me if I was going to arrest
anyone? I smiled and said what do you want?
I can’t run the whole damn city in.