Leo Briones

Rookie - 36 Points (6-16-63 / El Paso, TX)

Legally High - Poem by Leo Briones

with acknowledgements to Sharon Lloyd Mc Cracken

On Venice Beach
the people’s restroom
is smeared with the people’s dung,
pigeon’s coo in mass like Mao’s Red Army,
all below a flashy sky and a few crumbs
of late Spring clouds.

A rainbow of skulls—
emerald, scarlet, azure and jade—
line this boardwalk.
Jeans well below his ass,
a bling Jesus across his chest
a fifteen plus something kid hustles quarters and dollar bills
Eminem-style from avant-garde strangers.

Marijuana for medicine everywhere,
eyes as vague as kettle corn
wander back-and-forth
from roller blade princes
to spiked haired teens
with more piercings than Cleopatra.

A man wearing ebony leather
across his face and hands has no address
but a dusty sleeping bag and plastic tarp.
He takes claim on a leggy southern belle
in a short denim skirt,
“I’m a good suntan spreader doll.”
The woman smiles her polite southern smile,
gulps a diet coke in a Wacky Wok cup
to avoid an indignant sigh,
turns to her husband,
“Bless his heart, now bless his heart.”

Mouth agape Suere’s Voxal 2000
is rust and steel. Is this modern curiosity
outraged by this pageant or something quite different?

Are the women who shine in sculpted work out gear
and run back and forth between metal slatted trash cans
like metallic ping pong balls
perfect sacrifices to the god of pagan lust and joy?

Like a mini-tour de France
ruby, sapphire and emerald cruisers
whiz north in search of sweet butter toffee
coffee houses arranged with care.
Santa Monica seems a sanctuary
for the hip, toned and sculpted
couples who hear the piper’s melody.

A cowabunga crowd gathers
in search of the eternal Wednesday,
surfers slide and slip across ten-foot waves.
The curious snap their Blackberries and I-phones
to remember:
how extreme the surfers are,
how dull are the shells,
how salty is the seaweed,
how comfortable the trash.

They are wrapped like seals
in black coats to shield themselves
from the afternoon breeze.

As for me?

I sit butt naked on a blanket,
not twenty feet from the Pacific’s edge.
Only five feet from me
a sleeping junky sprawled
like a pale mannequin on the beach.
A tattoo of a fire truck
and obscures his track marks.
He wakes for a second and touches his nose,
babbles something about being on the edge,
laughs like a mocking bird,
and returns to his poppy dreamland.

A gray-haired man
with peach droopy shorts,
skinny legs and beer belly
plays metal detector lottery in the sand.

I vow only to remember
the barnacles,
the urchins
and the seagulls
of the jetty
who live and hunt
with each tug and pull of the waves.

I hear the static
of an overdrive pedal
that distorts with heathen mettle


somewhere on the wind
the strum of a wandering troubadour
who plays an old Dylan song
I can’t quite peg

but for a second sounds

a little bit like God.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poem Edited: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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