to see the disappearance

who can say what might have been avoided

who can say what is unjust

they disappear, vanishing slowly from sight as they walk

down the street into the distance like a film’s slow fade out

and somewhere there is a record of life lived

which may be a child or a friend

or a backyard redwood fence built

or a child’s initials scratched into wet concrete 30 years ago

or a tree or bush planted

or a song once sung alive in the memory of another

or photo in a yearbook in a library

or in a drinking glass or necktie or LP that was donated to the goodwill, now in someone’s kitchen or closet or record collection

or a chair left on the street for someone to gather

or a burner—blues, reds, pinks—with crisp yellow outlines and 3D down and to the left

a graffiti piece that fades on a wall somewhere

or has been painted over

traintracks or rooftops or an alley

or under a freeway overpass




to find traces of


–an archaeologist

who is actually just a kid


to find a scratch into the earth of what the world once was

and if we are to survive

that kid will have to read that scratch

and make us know what it means

and make us know why it matters

and make us know that those scratch-makers

were the doers and builders and imaginers

we dream of

[for AJ, rest in piece, and for all the bay area graffiti writers who are or who once were–your presence is required and loved]