My First Billionaire
he’s squinting unfolding paper maps
swerving like a mad carnival ride
right foot on the gas, left on the brake
in a two-step dance whoosh-fast clunk-slow
up I-280 in a rental Toyota.
“Some golf course I forget the name.”
He wears a tam-o’-shanter and flannel pants,
says he’s from Tokyo, just flew in.
Says they have good trains and subways
and why can’t Frisco?
he figured out a philosophy of life
that money, you know, once you’ve got
three billion you should spend it
instead of trying for three more.
“You have three billion?” I ask.
“I think so.” He laughs. “When
I was a baby, they bombed my city.
Now they ask me to join their club.”
catch a streetcar. Studying a map,
fingering the steering wheel with one pinkie,
he’s off. Somewhere. I want to say
Beware of hitchhikers. You’re weirdly naïve.
But I can only speak to myself.
Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Random Saints.