Poetry: David Francis

David Francis has produced six music albums, one of poetry, "Always/Far," a chapbook of lyrics and drawings, and "Poems from Argentina" (Kelsay Books).
He has written and directed the films "Village Folksinger" (2013) and "Memory Journey" (2018).  His poems and short stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies.

They Haunt Me

I drove throughout the city,
imagining the lives
of the poor man who jives,
of the thrifty who thrives;
I saw the window shades
across the esplanades,
the curtain rods like braids
of widows, wives, and maids;
over the railroad track,
far west, almost outback,
where the space is too black,
even with no smokestack;
the native guy who sprawls
behind weed-sprung strip-malls,
whom the widened freeway calls
to and from his revels:
a U-turn and you meet
the bombed-out boarded street
where gray-walled arcades greet
non-white-flight in defeat.

Revisiting the Junior College

These meters under the freeway—
you used to pay a lot
man—weren’t here because
the freeway didn’t cross above
this arced dilapidated bottom-
land where once I rolled backward
on a poker-faced bumper without
incident, stick-shift daydreaming…
figures are leaving for lunch,
lurching forward on the ledge
of the only long bridge
whose summit is a college
over a body whose wide—
for this city—brown mass
called up rivers and rafts
when I was looking forward
to retiring—a figurehead of
people waiting for the bus
in front, I take a
ramp and find myself in
a market, a station, a
passage I follow to orient
myself by coming upon recognizable
classrooms if not floors
so the first flights I skip,
by chance landing on a number
in which hall the head
of a memory, just checking
out, the character voice no
one else—I am older,
gray; he looks exactly the same—
escaping while I calm my
heart to shake his hand:
instead we go our ways,
where on the Science floor
formaldehyde and two old-style
vented restroom doors
bring certainty and déjà vu,
up to the Engineering
headquarters, a contrast, with the
personality of a plastic nametag,
until a couple behind me
huffs in late: through the
crack a woman’s instructing timbre
taunting with too-early mornings
of narcolepsy—my own delinquency
rising to the tower as
in old buildings without
skylight to the floor called
Roof—these stairs in this
chimney space rubber-stripped across
cement (someone could die
in here and no one would
use this fire hatch)—open
the door at the ground
level, exiting there and revolving
a turnstile, buying a coffee,
lost, searching for implements
among groups, hubbub, rush, goofing
off, the best-view table,
only one professor to my
right, a boy enters, invites her
to the restaurant he is
“associated with,” young men from
other lands, upon reuniting, stare
into eyes and hold hands
with friends, a girl asks
if I saw the guys
who were at my table leave,
all the chairs around have
been requested, should I stay,
watch-less, it must be time
so down the carpet past
the special seats for the 
elevator girls—all phased out
after twelve years it’s been,
they’ve changed the name:
that one orange leaf drifting,
causing the whole murky bayou
to seem clearer.


and straps suspended on heels
the eating of the food
and the sweeping
straws and squinting faces
the last days of spring
the loud speaker
limping of the overworked girl
and her laughter
the fans moving
too slow to fly
and the still skyscrapers
over the last 
of the old buildings
the young man
in the corner
silent and resentful
chewing his ice
the people over the counter
perching like eagles
to swoop on their food
the women leaning, chasing
their children
smiling at the nuns

Aristocrat Song

it does no good

to say the refineries
are not there

or cup my ear
to the lathe

the great walls of the city
reach up and
surround the

annexing it
as a streetlamp

we gather

with coffee and guitars
some singing, some silent

with different folk

how can there be
One hymn?

it’s always uncomfortable


to catch a face

through a tambourine.

A Vision

I see a ship set off
from which a person waves a white handkerchief,
and the harbor flooded with sails.

But the person is bigger than the ship
which will carry him
where he belongs.

I do not see him landing, I can’t see the ocean—
only his departure
and the harbor flooded with sails.

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