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tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

February 17, 2011

bedbugs roaches and mice

The following question is for men to answer quietly in their own hearts.

If you find a dead man’s porn stash, should you masturbate to it?

Take a minute and consider how you react when you see pictures of naked women.

No one is coming to visit, the man is dead.

I was on 6th Street in San Francisco today. A notorious off ramp of Highway 280, the street that is strung up with flop houses and liquor stores because no one else wants to live on the exit into a major city.

It’s not a pretty street. Not tough, so much. Simply depressing. If you see a man in a wheel chair with one leg gone from the knee up using his good leg to run in circles and scream at the wind, spinning backwards in the self locomotive way of single leg amputees, you’ll be on 6th. If you see a long line in front of a locked door, that’s the Christian mission that opens in an hour and serves a hot lunch and a prayer service. There are four or five on the strip. There’s always a line in front of a door on this block.

Today’s job was to clean out a dead man’s one bedroom apartment. He died slow, in a hospital, and he told his case worker’s, “I don’t have anybody. No family. Nothing.”

So everything was to be thrown out. Everything being needles for diabetes, off brand Depends diapers, hip hop clothes, a small collection of porn magazines catering to older white women with large breast fetishist’s, three trays of cassettes including Richard Pryor’s “That Nigger’s Crazy”, Sir Mixalot, and Beethoven…what else…hmmm…the refrigerator was full of food but it took two months to clear the courts before I got an okay to haul it out so things were pretty rotten at that point…so clothes, diabetes medicine, tapes, and old food. That really seemed to be all.

Much of it I put on the street. I sorted everything so no personal information was out there. Personal information like the court papers that showed a woman had a daughter by him. The daughter was born in a toilet in city homeless shelter. An aunt took the baby girl that somehow survived that because the mother had cocaine in her system and had left the baby for dead.

The step uncle was caught molesting the child and taken away from them. Basically unwanted, save for molestation, from the start. That’s his girl.

Imagine reading that report as a father…knowing you left a child to that world…and you are living in a flop house, dead mice decaying in a sticky trap under sink, roaches in your silverware drawer, government potato flakes in your cupboard, and you are dying. Your daughter is dead before you. You pee in your bed.

As I sorted through things I brought small salvageable things out to the street corner. A folding table. a pair of sneakers. A coffee maker. There were lots of plastic milk crates he had used for shelves. I set those on the street knowing others like him would put them to use.

The man’s apartment was on the second floor. I went through everything, coat pockets, crumpled bags, behind the stove. Nothing of value. The man had nothing of value. An old Planters peanut jar was full of pennies. He’d hid that in his closet. It wasn’t actually Planters, but the local supermarket off brand. Six bucks at most, hidden from the thieves.

I got a load of garbage bags into the cart and wheeled down the hall into the old elevator with it’s accordion gate. Outside, across the street, as I’m wheeling to my truck, I see a crazy woman standing on a milk crate I’d left and pantomiming like a despotic political leader. By raising herself a foot off the ground she had found power.

I wondered how a woman ends up on the street, crazy like that. Then I remembered the report I’d read, about a little girl thrown away from the start. Raped by 2. Put into foster care from there. The wonderful system of protection we have. A homeless shelter or Christian outreach program to prop her along when she’s 18. A milk crate from the corner when she’s 28 and blazed out on crack.

So as you dig through a man’s life, you find the notices from government agencies he couldn’t throw out yet, and you find old lighters and a pipe, there are trial size shampoos, pills from the doctor, pictures on the wall of people he loved, and a notebook of pages torn from dirty magazines.


  1. Yup. I squatted in a house in the sunset on 17th between Geary and Clement. See the link above.

    Comment by Al — February 17, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  2. Oh you said quietly….

    Comment by Al — February 17, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  3. I’m hungry

    Comment by ken — February 18, 2011 @ 4:18 am

  4. Jon, I think you should organize a MRIP summit. For a reasonable fee, people could come to town from around the world and go on some of these adventures with you.

    Comment by Lyle_S — February 19, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  5. i love that idea. get set up with a tour guide company and call it “working vacation”

    Comment by Rolston — February 22, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  6. i dont know where the link is, but thanks for answering Al. one thing thoughh, thats the Richmond not the sunset.

    Comment by Rolston — February 22, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  7. The link is my name…. Right richmond. wrong sunset. I knew a guy that had a business teaching people how to go cruising. (Sailing long distances, slowly and drinking copious amounts of rum along the way) They paid him big bucks and he got someone to come take care of his boat under his direction and they paid him. He sells videos of the same shit for people too. He makes them shine the brass and varnish the bright work. He makes them buy all the food when they are there but shows them how to “provision.” he probably makes them pay for the hookers he likes too. Brilliant.

    Comment by al — February 23, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

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