Once, there was a week of rain.

Another time, there was a silver streak, the man who stopped his bike to say hello.

Today was somewhere in between.

Another time, a brown hatchback, stopped in the middle of Sunset, was on fire. A woman emerged, surrounded by magnificent plumes of gray smoke, the walking dead bringing form to ash. I could only recall fragments of useless information. Black smoke, for instance, means This is bad. This is really bad.

The woman was urgent. She called out for an Extinguisher! and kept repeating the word, in the chaotic way that people say the same thing over and over, as if the repetition itself might make you understand.

Meanwhile, I was setting up shop in a dream, setting up an assembly line of help. The men in the street, the sweepers, were wishing away the afternoon. Somewhere the fire was still burning. It was really happening, traffic motionless, balanced on a needle. The woman, still saying the word, over and over. The tragedy, still yet to happen, prefaced by urban tumbleweeds, circles of smoke.

Eventually, I open my crimson paper heart to guava and rose, charcoal smudged on cheek, rising sulfur that stings my eyes. Intoxicated by eucalyptus, there are shadows and sun through blind slats, mapping time. My love for the ficus changes, depending on the time of day.

In my desk drawer, I keep a metal bird-bell attached to a string. It fits in the palm of my hand. I once bought this for a lover, but I never gave it away.

In another version of the story, the angels packed their bags. My hand was in a splint. The photograph was already scorched by sun. The plant had committed suicide. All this, all the common names for so many little disasters. Every day, closer to telling you the truth.

After much time,

two dozen birds rose above the roofs,

building a poem.