These Are the Cameras I Know Of

These are the cameras I know of:
in the City of London, throughout the alleys and courtyards and all of the streets –
so that on vacation, K asked, ‘do you think there are even five minutes of our day
that haven’t been recorded?’
and I said No,
while standing outside the house of Dr Johnson
admiring both the architecture and the statue of his cat
(there should be more statues of cats);
the camera in the satellite circling the globe that last photographed my house
sometime just before I bought it –
I can tell by the patio umbrella used in the purchase staging, a different color
from my own patio umbrella;
the cameras at traffic intersections
in my small suburban town;
the professional camera taking professional photos at the literary talk I went to last night;
the cellphone cameras of the audience members at the literary talk I went to last night;
the camera in the taxi in New York;
the cameras in Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv;
the immigration camera I looked into at customs
upon returning to California;
the camera on a neighbor’s drone
that last flew over my yard and others’ yards two summers ago
until another neighbor threatened to call the cops (or maybe until the grandson flying the drone got bored);
the cameras on the dashboards of cars on the freeway;
the cameras at what used to be the Golden Gate Bridge tollbooth but is now stand used for cameras taking pictures of license plates;
the cameras in the hands of many of the people I saw at the beach;
the cameras of the instructors at the standup paddleboard yoga class, because you never know which image will attract a new customer;
the camera in the sea otter exhibit at the Monterey Aquarium, because who doesn’t love sea otters;
the camera in the penguin exhibit also, because who doesn’t love penguins;
the camera sent down a volcano;
the cameras that recorded everything on YouTube;
the camera used by a surgeon
to diagnose a friend’s illness; the camera my colleague used to take a selfie of all four of us
because we achieved a day off sightseeing
at the end of a business trip far away from home;
the cameras used to record and document violence
and the aftermath of violence
and the discussion of violence;
the camera I used to take a picture of cherry blossoms
in a country not known for cherry blossoms;
the cameras in the conference rooms at work
used for videoconferences;
the cameras we see
and the cameras we don’t.

Traffic poem

With apologies to Prufrock.

In Los Angeles, the roads,
the ancient highways, come and go –
like gods uncertain, like the weather
rule the if the how the whether –
steel and girders, tar and tears
gape and shimmy, stop for years.

The red-brown dust that settles on the window edge –
The red-brown dust that drifts in through the window-screen –

Let us go and make the drive
up and down the 405.
Let’s let fall the past and future present.
Let us go and loop through old town.
Let us find the world’s last sunset.

And indeed there will be silhouetted palm trees
set just so along the concourse.

Through Silicon Valley, new-packed bumpers
hard-won snarls and snags betray a nervous
churning dream of promise and advancement. Don’t look closely –
yet – the system! User traffic’s here a golden
gleaming gift of magic. Motion seethes on apps
and content. Yet – still hidden –
doesn’t ‘hooked’ just mean addiction?

The morning mist that waterfalls through mountain passes
the morning haze that blurs the eastern hills —

Let us go and make the drive – avoiding, always, 85.
Lanes shift sudden to and fro
and where the potholes stop, who knows?
Red-line motion knots the map. Cars and trains and planes bestride
the Golden State, its length, its wide and fertile farmland valleys.
Haven’t you yet found the car keys?

Up and down the ever-crowding state we go
drifting, restless, to and fro
while in medians the natives – plants, of course –
put down roots and stubborn purchase, fight for room to live.

These streets


These streets
These streets begin to seem like the end of the world.
With a backlit sky and torn-up cobblestones
we dress in suits and heels to go to dinner
sweating gently in leftover heat
while a gravel voice plays on the radio

‘For rent’ scribbled on empty storefronts hints
what might have been.
The ice cream on the corner has a line around the block.
Two boys on bicycles hop the curb, first on then off.
Condensation drips down fire escapes from air conditioners above
and a lean-muscled woman with tan summer hair
curves her fingers around one last hazy cigarette.