On the waterfront

Watching light shine off buildings on Treasure Island,
You know you missed a moment in the sun,
How you coulduh been somebody.

Backing from the rail, you sit to feel your pain,
Then notice the light’s stillness, how peaceful you feel,
How you’ve forgotten the wind.

You know the sun usually comes out,
That if you come all the time you will face your glaring pain until it weakens,
That your peace will become greater than your failure.

Standing, you feel the wind assault you.
You walk back, seeking light in everyone’s face,
All of you shivering.

Copyright © 2023 by David Vaszko

Friday, June 29

Dear Jim,

It’s a hot morning in Sacto. I’m writing to you at my favorite coffee shop where I’ve written to you so many times in the last year.

I need the place. I’m lucky it’s here for me to regroup, or to smile on the world when I’m inspired.

That’s the way I feel about you. You were there when I was down. You were proud of me when I was up.

A guy just sat down at my table. He has an 8” x 5” x 11” bible. We looked at each other. I said hi. He didn’t. I’m sure he feels he is on a spiritual path.

I’m trying to be on one, to be the passionate truth seeker I was as a kid, to be born again, this time without arrogance.

So I’ve sought you with these letters. I needed you to help me make changes I ache to make, to feel great before I die.

It’s been an incredible year. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t written to you.

I’m scared. Next year I have to make it on my own. If I become great, you won’t be here to laugh with as we sit on the lawn in the back of Sis I’s breathing the country air.

It will be sad for me. It will be sadder for you. You always admired me – your younger brother with unforgettable passion.

There’s lots of regrets. With all our pain, I wish I had prayed for you, for us, for me.


Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, December 15

Dear Jim,

It´s a hazy day in Sacto, like a day South of Market in San Francisco, only there is no wind. I feel like going to The City, but I don´t know what I would do. I can´t walk like I used to.

Walking in The City always gave me hope. All the great views inspiring me for the future. I thrived on hope. Everything will work out I thought.

Six years ago dad and I took a walking tour. Actually we did two. The first was along the Barbary Coast, up to the park on the edge of Chinatown, then down to the Trans America building.

We rested at the park in Chinatown. There was a great view of Coit Tower. I thought of what the view would have been like when Montgomery Street was the shoreline.

There was no view of the bay from the park because of all the buildings, but in the old days the view would have been beautiful, or at least soothing. I read that a skyscraper is planned that will block the view of Coit Tower from the park. That´s what made the park magical, somewhere to go to contemplate a landmark and to dream.

When we got to the park it was very crowded with Chinese. It was orderly and safe. There was not a lot of noise. It was the way I wish cities and neighborhoods were all the time. It reminded me of the time you and I were outside the de Young.

A Chinese child was sitting on the ledge around the pond. He was looking at the fish or something. His mother was keeping an eye on him, but not being bossy. You marveled at how well-behaved he was.

The other walk dad and I took was in the Mission where you lived when you were born. It was a Sunday, a yucky day like today. It wasn´t in the real sunny part of the Mission like Florida Street. It reminded me of the Avenues. Boring.

But dad liked it. After the official walk we went into the business next door to where you guys lived. Dad told the clerk, ¨I lived next door when I first got married in 1945. Is there still …?¨ So the guy led us out back then left. Dad looked around reminiscing and marveling.

Then we walked to one of the bars dad used to go to. I didn´t like being there. Bars scare me. You never know what can happen. Dad had a beer and I had orange juice. I didn´t like the crowd, but dad was thrilled to be there.

It was a great day for dad. He loved San Francisco back then. He loved mom and the people he met there.

It was a bummer for me. I don´t have great memories. I never loved San Francisco. I´ve met great individuals, but I have never loved a group of people or a neighborhood.

One time I did a tour before I went home to Sacto from mom´s and dad´s. It was of Market Street near the hotel mom and dad stayed in on their honeymoon.

I was cutting it close and carrying all my crap. I got to the group just as it was beginning the walk. As I hurried up, the guide said something like, ¨Look who just blew in.¨ He was laughing. I wanted to say, ¨Fuck you asshole. You don´t look so good either.¨

It ruined the walk. What he should have said was, ¨Welcome. Glad you could make it. Love to have you.¨

It was a great example of San Francisco snobbery: We´re superior to L. A.; People in L. A. are phony; People in San Jose are rubes; We´re sophisticated here in The City.

The guy thought he was hot shit. He had worked for years in one of the famous buildings we walked by. Oh boy! You´re so cool!

Remember the girl from San Jose I dated after high school? She was beautiful. Everyone I met through her had class. They weren´t at all like the rowdies I hung out with, or like the snobs from North Beach or the Marina.

It was a great experience. The rubes in San Jose made me look my San Francisco snobbery in the eyeball. But I couldn´t get beyond being less of a snob to being warmer.

Some things just ain´t gonna happen.

I wish I had your personality.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko