Poetry from Tony Longshanks LeTigre

Yobo Poems

by Tony Longshanks LeTigre
yobo (noun): young hobo


I take a nap in George Sterling Park

broad daylight, early afternoon

I’m tired, between appointments

sleep for an hour or less

do not litter, in fact pick up

a bottle left by someone else

pee on the concrete

don’t drink or smoke (though I might)

as I wake up, guy confronts me

“are you camping out here?”

tells me to leave & not come back

calls me “buddy”

I say, “don’t call me buddy”

does this guy know

what it’s like to be crazy tired

and have nowhere to sleep?

I leave, for my own reasons

but may be back again

to this park named after a bohemian roustabout poet

who would totally take a nap in a park


Each time I come across

a big explosion of stuff on the sidewalk

I wonder: what happened to the person?

which reminds me, they found a suitcase

with a headless torso stuffed inside

the guy police arrested as a suspect is supposed to be dead

but I don’t think he did it anyway

and I swear I saw him a couple days ago

sitting outside a hospital in the Mission

in a hospital gown, with a walker

smoking a cigarette, looking tired

and confused, and a little scared

as might be expected

of a dead man


Free admission to the Conservatory of Flowers

takes me a while to find it

in the wormhole spacewarp of Golden Gate Park

(so easy to get lost, so hard to care)

but finally I find it

and I mean to stay only an hour

but there’s no place like home

o the humid joy of reentering the womb

of our big green jungle mama!

your balls will get sweaty, but it will be worth it

for a hippo’s eye view of a pond covered in water lilies

and some sticky tricky plants that would offend the vegetarians

and a wine-red fish wearing sequins called rasbora heteromorpha

no one is homeless in the aquarium

and I wonder if I could hide somewhere and live here

and I stay more than an hour


Come quickly, mighty earthquake

or you may miss your chance

to rock me like a hurricane

& shut my mouth at last

for Portland’s calling,

& I’m about to take that call

neglected these six long years
Come quickly, moderate-sized earthquake

of magnitude 6 or less

Hayward, San Gregorio, Calaveras, Mount Diablo,

Concord-Green Valley, Monte Vista-Shannon—

what have you done for me lately?

So long in vain we’ve waited

for nothing more than a 4.1 or 4.2

in the grand old days of Occupy

(was that your fault, San Andreas?)
How we prayed for that temblorette

to be the preamble to an event

of truly seismic significance:

rifts opening in the earth

allowing the pigs & politicians

to skip due process & plummet directly

into the depths of hell

which contrary to popular belief

& aided perhaps by global warming

will not be freezing over any time soon
Come quickly, mega earthquake

so I can see the street become

the rolling snake I’ve read about

& surf those waves of yuppie towers

& watch us all forget

for a minute, a few days, a week

internecine warfare & humanmade drama

& remember who the master is

will you sound like distant thunder from down under?

like a train passing, or mountains crumbling?

“It’s a trippy sound,” he said

(your pets are not clairvoyant—

they just feel the P-wave first)
Come quickly, sexy earthquake

an old black man on a bus

got mad at me once when I said that

“Don’t you joke about that, young man”

he said, looking me

very seriously in the eye—

there is superstition!

“I’m not that powerful,” I told him

the day before SF 1906,

Mt. Vesuvius erupted—

is there coincidence?
Come quickly, mother earthquake

& put us in our place at last

I can’t take this waiting any more

& clearly we can’t save ourselves

mother, come, deliver us

from our own evil

& be our big



My big break is here at last

a legit roof over my head

for the first time in four years

a techie with a heart and a spare room

will let me live while we fight his eviction

and use his new Macbook Pro

(welcome back, sleek silver perfection!)

and give me a bunch of money if we win

(which we might…)

so I woke up this morning in the park

with the pastel sunrise

in the green space between two fences

(tickle of ant crawling into my armpit)

and thought, how weird will it be

to suddenly not have to worry

about where I’m going to sleep tonight?

some things I will miss about life on the fly:

total freedom to come & go & do & be

making it up as I go along

(many shortcomings aside, this life lacks not for excitement)

joy of peeing anywhere

the life our brains are made to live

but this is the break I’ve been waiting for,

and even I think I’ve earned it

so I shoulder my pack,

“I’ll be back” I whisper—

to the trees,

to the grass,

to the ants—

“don’t worry,” they reply,

“we’ll be here”