11 a.m. Just like Edward Hopper’s Redhead
by Joan Jobe Smith

I lean toward my pied a terre window where I live, to gaze
out at the downtown Long Beach, California, cityscape.
Except I’m not a real redhead, my real hair’s really grey,
and I’m not naked.

I see the green hula-dancing palms, the Jupiter-sized camellia tree
fat with enough pink blossoms to polka-dot a yellow brick road to      Hawaii.
I see the two-story apartment buildings next door and other side of the      alley,
and telephone poles pointing the way to the reach-for-the-sky Villa      Riviera,
the long-ago swanky hotel now a condo with ye olde verdi-gris copper      rooftop
when lit up at night glows emerald cabochon while its spy-eyed
grim-grey gargoyles on the eaves glower and squat and curse
dread and dare demons to impale upon the spiked turrets.

At age two during World War 2
I could see all that out my bedroom window when
we lived in a 4-plex on the Old Pike (before the city tore it down for
land fill and a marina), the happy rattletrap roller coaster roars only a
block away from where I played with my dolls near boogie-woogie
hamburgers, jitterbug sailors paying a dime for a shoeshine, each
awaiting Long Beach cityscape sundown blackout
so’s the Japanese bombers wouldn’t see us down here near
the Pacific Ocean sand, everyone in the world wondering: What’s next?

and now, here in 2015,
3 weeks after my 75th birthday, at 11:19 a.m., I remember
it’s time to take out the trash to the alley dumpster, leave out food
and recyclables for the homeless, who, noontimes wander there,
worry, wondering, “What’s next?” the way I do, too, in here
with my dyed red hair as I look out my cityscape window,
waiting, wondering, “What’s next?” just like
Edward Hopper’s 11 a.m. naked lady does, too (doesn’t she?), as she
leans, sighs, at whatever in her 1926 cityscape makes her remember      and see.
Except I’m not naked.
Or am I?

PHOTOGRAPH:Villa Riviera” (Long Beach, California) by EYADSTUDIO


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .”  won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize.