{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Gary Sloboda

is a lawyer, writer and musician, not necessarily in that order.

His work has appeared in such places as Rattle, Drunken Boat, The Cortland Review and EOAGH: A Journal of the Arts.

He lives in San Francisco.

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Bourgeois Pacifica

Outside the door of the apartment building
I stand on the tip of a star engraved
in the broken concrete of the sidewalk

installed in 1931. The lecherous retiree
excuses himself as he sidles to the door
with plastic bags like anchors in his fists—

vodka, bananas and soymilk, the lilt of his gait
the result of a shorter leg for which he pads
the pedals of his VW that gleams like a polyp

in the street. I hear Mahler blaring from his place
at night, the high-pitched cries of porno movies
a dissonant silt beneath the river of adagios.

The smoke of his wife’s sorrow billows
from the second floor. Through rotted
window frames I hear her voice melting

into the nonsense of laugh tracks,
the glossy pages of fashion magazines
hissing wildly in her hands.