He feared drowning. He fell asleep on the bus,
sleeping past his stop, and on down to Redondo Beach,
the waves breaking, hard on hearing.
He slept past the beach break at El Porto,
his head bouncing against the beach-side window,
his tools jiggling in his toolbox at his feet,
past the Manhattan Beach Pier,
the Hermosa Biltmore Hotel,
the Hermosa pier, on down to Redondo.
The bus driver would have to speak up.
The evening water was glassing off,
the Strand bars filling with surfers,
their cream yellow and orange and blue surfboards standing
against cars, walls, wet, dirty sand waxed.
He dreamed of fish, bottled beer, oysters.
He dreamed of broiled eel,
of yellowtail garnished with scallops,
dreams he did not understand.
A giant squid rose from a thick gelled water
and reached up for him, and he quick stroked
in his sleep on the bus to dog paddle away,
back to Shively, the house near the railroad tracks,
where he’d built out the basement room in knotty pine.
He awoke on the bus in Redondo Beach,
at the end of the line, foggy out now,
the sound of the surf muffled
in his ears. Flying fish eggs
surrounded his tired and dozed head,
his hair closely cropped,
his clothes dirty from the day’s work.
He’d returned the car, a ’56 Plymouth,
and salt filled his ears.