David Starkey

Man with Briefcase, 1962

Any planet is “Earth” to those who live on it.

   —Isaac Asimov

Something awful has happened
along State Street—a parking lot
collapsed, leaving behind 
a fifteen-foot declivity. 

Rain maybe, or a crack
in the earth: broken pipes
and twisted rebar. Luckily,
a man with a briefcase has come

to stand in the rubble and mud.
His suit jacket’s too big,
but his slacks are pressed, his shoes 
are recently polished,

and in the pocket of his white 
dress shirt he carries the answer
to every important question 
he’s faced in life to date: 

a slide rule and a pen. 
Clean-shaven and dour, with browline 
glasses, he radiates solemnity.
So, what’s with the bolo tie?

And why, oh why, is he leaning
so precariously to his left? 
He looks less like a man 
hoping to avoid wounding

himself on a jagged slab
of concrete, and more like a being
who has just arrived from outer space,
someone unused to gravity

trying to compensate
for the elliptical orbit 
of the unpredictable planet 
on which he is marooned.

After the Edson Smith Photo Collection Santa Barbara — State Street

David Starkey served as Santa Barbara’s 2009-2011 Poet Laureate and is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College. He is Co-editor and Publisher of Gunpowder Press, as well as the author of eight full-length poetry collections. Also by this poet “Cuyama Branch Public Library, c. 1915