"At The Grove" by Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia - At The Grove

Ghosts sell produce
from the backs of Studebakers,
phantom children race miniature cars
on an asphalt parking lot
that covers all that's left
of its former track
on 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles.
Fountains boogie onto cobblestones,
it's like Vegas with a trolley car.

Land of Gilmore
home to L.A. baseball
--The Hollywood Stars
the available team,
the team you saw with your older brother.

I strain to hear
the crack of runs batted in,
whistles and shrill of public address
announcer's roar "... it's outta here"
umpire barking
"Safe!"

But generations of concrete
bury that old green field,
consumers crowding from
codependent parking structure
to fake main street
of corporate coffee houses
and Ophrah's book club
where mimes and security guards
smother memories.

As dizzied surround-sound movie-goers
disgorge the multi-plex
I shake my head¬--
not the old drive-in theater
not where families hid under blankets
to avoid additional charge,
not where teenagers groped their first sex
not little racers burning up the tracks
not ball players sliding through innings.

Now it's children sliding past frames of lingerie,
designer Hawaiian shirts and Cubic Zirconium.
They look for $1.50 gumballs and new electronic controls.

I look for passage back through maintenance access
and service alleys
seeking that forgotten field of summer play
past the parking lot produce
the lanky players that stretch and glide
for the little guys with dirty faces
to cheer and play their maracas of Cracker Jack boxes.

Kids and visitors do not hear those echoes,
smoking immigrant dishwashers
frown at off-tune Karaoke singers
and I glare at my daughter's cotton candy smile.

I ask her,
"Do you call this a good time?"

Jerry Garcia shared his poem with Departures in participation with National Poetry Month. Since not included in that project, we showcased his selection in our community poems section. We thank Jerry for his contribution in celebration and understanding of L.A. You are invited to share yours as well.


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