cold walls.
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the sunday before last, at noon on mullholland drive,
my roomate joshua took a spill on his motorbike. (it didn't hurt much
and he didn't break
anything. he scraped his left leg up
real good. bumped his knee. scratched his helmet. he walked away without pain, even

though mullholand drives curvy
and james dean died drunk up there;
(hiking through the hill brush
you can see rust crunched pontiacs ghost-ridden off through the railing,
since sloped
idle amidst thirsty scrub oaks, 40 years waiting, overlooking with jealous headlights at each new auto cruising through the

gas-forsaken valley)
and that woman wandered with amnesiac concussion
in the lynch movie that we saw when first i moved to los angeles
last march
because LA only wants to tell
its own
stories to itself. joshua's leg has changed color.

his leg has always been leg-colored, as long
as I can remember, though not as long
as my leg.
it has become scabbed, purple legioned, a bruised sleeve of unleeched blood
sitting in an otherwise
painless leg and occassionally he bumps it
by accident on furniture or floor and curses quietly
(bruise like a splatter-tatooed sleeve, overguned and undertended,
ending in a sharp line,
at the tight elastic
of his sock.)

joshua came home early from work because his knee
suddenly started swelling.
nothing hurt. concerned, we took the pick up
truck to burbank
couldn't find the hospital
went too far, crossed the 5
lost olive ave, squeaked from one gast station
to the next. until we finally found

the hospital just down the street from nbc studios
where they film the tonight show. and such.
the structure had a smokestack
like an old tyme factory. joshua registered at the window, and we killed time

poking at his watter-ballooned knee, watching
news of war and elections on the television (at odd angles)
looking and listening at and to
the man with the dialysis machine
the young woman in the victorian costume
whose daugter had broken her
shoulder, raving on about her kids learning
islam and greek mythology in school,
"and when are they going to teach our religion? but no, that's
not allowed." she made friends with a christian man
whose son

had snapped his arm at practice
because football this season
is not in god's plan
and we played chess
sipping burnt coffee
and they scoffed at darwin, out loud
and we giggled at memories of other hospitals
cel phones ringing, ringing.

the woman in the wheelchair wanted to sleep;
i lost the chess match,
the tv blinked double jeopardy, final jeopardy, wheel
of fortune. institutional lighing is always dead cold.
joshua's over-lubricated cartelidge will
be fine, with just a few
days of steroids.

men and women and children, waiting.
for medical attention and halloween.
nurses, orderlies, moving about.
another month around the corner.