A Season In Hell
"When you come in to work each morning,
remove your bodily organs and limbs
one by one. Hang them up on the hooks
provided in the walk-in-the-box, then put a white apron
onto your disembodied self, pick up a knife,
and go to the meat block," said Alex, the manager.
I was also drained of blood and other vital bodily fluids.
After the morning rush
preparing pork adobo and chicken curry,
I ate lunch with Fong the chief cook
and Lee the dishwasher.
In the afternoon, I examined souls and kept their
merits and demerits in a ledger.
For the three months I worked at City Lunch near the BART Station.
I paid my rent and gradually became robust enough to walk yo work.
The entire city of San Francisco swung with the rhythm of my walk
and stars appeared in the middle of the afternoon with a sliver of the
Meanwhile, at Fisherman's Wharf, the stingrays came to the jetty
and whipped their tails against rocks. Tourists paid me to dance
on the waves; I carefully tread water and remembered to breathe.
In the end, I was evicted anyway from my castle that glowed at night.
For lack of anything better to do, I walked from hilltop to hilltop,
burned newspapers to inhale the smoke, then climbed down to the
beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and harvested seaweed.
I waited until one sunny day when the water was warm and calm,
then swam all the way to Asia and got replacements for my
I did not forget that I was a ghost.
And that was my first season in Hell.
Water Chasing Water
Kaya Press, 2013