We ride out of downtown on a river of exhaust,
past a woman, drunk with the fumes,
who clutches a sign in dirty hands:
Very hungry. Please help.
Once I stopped to explain why we dress in steel,
point our chins East.
She shook her head, unwilling
to know a world outside her sorrow,
and I don’t stop any more. She doesn’t understand
the flow of traffic, the agreement we’ve made to move in sync.
Sometimes she holds out a bouquet of roses
as if she wanted to jam the freeways with her troubled flowers,
but we keep going, drifting on rafts of glass
toward the freedom of our separate houses,
windows that flicker television blue
along the quieted streets.
—from Rattle #15, Summer 2001
Jessica Goodheart: “By day I do research for an organization that focuses on the increasing problem of low-wage poverty in Los Angeles. On evenings and weekends, I chase after my fifteen-month-old son, clean up the wreckage he leaves in his wake, and write poetry. The impact of technology and consumerism on our lives is one of my preoccupations as a writer.”