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Sunday, April 10, 2005


by Scott Odom

The palm trees line the sky like anti-aircraft bursts
              above the graffiti bricks and the chain link fences
              and the cars thumping war thumps,
              above the spinning red and blue lights of the patrol cars
              that have cordoned off the block,

              and the sweat-stained uniforms
              of the policemen, five of them or so,
              standing beside the ragged shot body of a homeless man,
              and the German tourists who told them
              they thought he was a bag of garbage.

Someone had tried to set the man’s leg on fire
              and a policeman laughs as he pokes at it.
I think that’s the guy from Hollywood, the sergeant says.
I busted him last month for drunk and disorderly.

An Uzi fwaps in the distance.

A helicopter turns above the flak and the lights
              and spins excitedly, like a buzzard smelling carrion and
              at the edge of the man’s coat, the embers are still warm.

His dead hand is raised to shake like a true gentleman,
              a bottle of Windex and an oddly spotless rag
              are half hidden beneath him.

Yeah, the sergeant says, wiping his mouth,
              definitely that guy from Hollywood, the windshield washer.
              Who cares? someone says.

Then the wind changes and they turn from the horror,
              one of the officers puts a handkerchief over his mouth,
              the helicopter spins madly,
              and the sergeant whispers a eulogy above the dead monster:
              It seems like everyone out here wants to kill you.

Scott Odom is a writer and teacher living in Los Angeles. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The New York Quarterly, The New York Magazine of the Arts, Prairie Poetry, and other mags and zines throughout the country. A novel he has written called 95 South will appear in December.