Arts & Events

Berkeley Fragments

By Mike Palmer
Friday December 29, 2006


At “Launderland” 

the laundromat 

that’s fixed on that 

radio station 

that plays the hits  

from the ’70s 

day and night 

a homeless man 

is inside  


uses this space 

for his living room. 


He spends the money 

he’s begged for all day 

on playing video games 

while talking 

to himself. 


Others read books. 

One does pages of Math 

(or is it Engineering?) problems 

while his clothes spin. 


As if performing 

a religious ritual 

a laundromat worker 






cleans each washing machine 

and dryer 

slowly, methodically, gliding a towel 

around the edges  

and over the top. 

As if a higher power 

he reports to 

is watching him. 


I go down the street and 

eat my dinner 

at a Chinese restaurant. 




The way a homeless person 

walks directly in front of you 

without looking at you 

and you have to move out of 

their way 

to avoid collision. 


(CEO’s and University Chancellors 

employ the same technique.) 


Without speaking 

they want you to know 

that they live 

in your world. 





The closed and abandoned 


The windows where posters were placed 

for the current and upcoming movies 

are now covered with graffiti. 


Homeless teenagers 

sit at the entrance 

listening to techno music 



A tombstone 





The site of the “Massage Parlour”  

that everyone who lived here  

knew was a house of prostitution 

across the street from 

the upscale supermarket 

is where 

“15 Luxury Condominiums” 

are being built. 









A large sign 

announces their availability 

for those who can afford the cost. 


Cody’s Book Store on Telegraph Avenue 

world famous 

a place where 

the best writers read 

and signed their books 

is closed, abandoned. 


Has become a place for 

selling Halloween supplies. 




When I check out my purchase 

at the upscale supermarket 

a young man 

says to his co-worker 

“It’s all about property” 

his dreadlocks dancing as he speaks. 

He looks directly at me and asks 

“Sir, are you blessed?”