this is not me :), pexels.com
Spencer lived the high life
at 16th and Mission
in the Hotel Royan,
a fashionable *SRO haven
in its own imperfect way.
The infamous residents
added a crazy, marginalized vibe
a San Francisco carnival atmosphere.
One guy looked like a human ant
with homemade antennas
sticking of out his head 24/7.
I’d see Ant man in the elevator and hallways
or there he is again at SFPL where I worked
at the heart of everything.
Derelicts and politicians all in one space
City Hall was across the street from the library.
Another Royan resident looked like
the evil Warlock from Rudolph’s animated Christmas story.
He angrily wrote “gorilla” on Spencer’s doorway
because he wouldn’t sleep with him.
Another infamous resident was Chubster,
a young adult who threatened to bomb
the nearby IMAX movie theater and was awaiting sentencing.
Spencer spent his days
jumping through public assistance hoops
meeting social workers
counselors and probation officers.
His afternoons were spent drumming
at the Drum Circle on hippie hill
at Golden Gate park
he and I lounged there on weekends
in the sunset fog in puffs
of summer of love smoke
where drop out mentality never ended.
Bliss of momentary dullness
pillow of dumb relief
among wake and bake stoners
winos up all night to blue tvs flickering
video lights amped on Hollywood pretend.
Psychotropic resin slurred blur
tongue twister thirst
maybe that’s what dehydration does
swirling saliva into desert dunes of dusk.
At 16th and Mission bottles broke
like bones shattered angrily
by drunks out all night howling.
bless the vampires with water
cleanse them of the shame of falling.
No one else but Spencer
could amaze and inspire me
to laugh and weep at life’s uncertainty.
Through him I could vicariously live through
and intimately see this scavenger society
and see it’s imperfect worth.
I never knew poverty until I met him.
And I never loved anyone else as much.
Love will make you a willing pauper.
Love cannot be bought or sold.
Love is more precious
than all the world’s gold.
*SRO stands for Single Occupancy Residence (or something similar, it’s where otherwise homeless people have an assigned housing unit. The units are usually very tiny studios with a sink installed in the room, which gives a prison-like feel to the unit. Residents are allowed 1 or 2 overnight visitors and day time guests have to sign in and out on a visitors log).