Sunday, March 6, 2011


[Published in The Beatnik, March 26, 2011, on-line at]


Claudia greets me in the morning
with coffee and half a smile,
eyes downcast somewhere
between sadness and a different place.
I am there also,
only closer to sadness,
knowing no other place to be.

I stare out the café window,
at all the purposeful people
on their way to purposeful days;
it hurts to look at them
in the morning sun's glare,
so I follow Claudia
as she shuttles between tables and kitchen,
taking orders, pouring coffee,
delivering food,
while the manager shouts her round the restaurant—
"Claudia, pick up!"
"Claudia, new customer!"
"Claudia, clear that table over there!"

Claudia looks my way.
I sense a glance that says
take me away from here,
take me to another place,
and I want the same from her,
but neither of us says a word
as Claudia pours me another cup of coffee.


(various haiku and tanka and a few deviations from strict form)

End of day, and now
the sound of rushing water
as I sat creek-side,
the warm sun and peaceful breeze--
just a cold night memory.

Lavender and teal--
the colors of the dawn sky.
You are still asleep.

Peach and blue today.
You are still asleep, while I
enjoy dawn alone.

I sit on the pier;
the river flows slowly past.
So much like my life.

River laps on shore,
a light breeze cools my body.
I don't want to leave.

Calm water, light breeze;
quiet morning on the pier
writing simple lines
of haiku and tanka
while everyone else sleeps.

Gray fisherman wading along our beach
how awkward you look,
and yet a certain majesty
as you stand motionless

Walking Columbus,
I think I may have taken
a wrong direction.

(written after walking along Columbus Street in San Francisco)

She leaned against me,
then turned slowly in my arms
and kissed me softly.
I could not force my mind
to remain within the dream.

White snow on green grass;
clouds obscure the dawning sun--
a New Year begins.

Clouds part; sun lights way.
I resolve to not resolve.
A New Year begins.

Dead roses lie on the table,
still bundled as they came from the store.
For want of water, they withered.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


[Published on the Dead Beats Literary Blog, October 16, 2012]


Late afternoon sun behind him,
his cab parked at the curb
outside the station;
his rug laid neatly on the sidewalk
between the parking meters,
he stands,eyes closed,
right hand on the left across his chest,
making his intentions known to his heart,
unaware of commuters
walking past, on their way home.
He bows, hands on knees,
and says, Allahu akbar—God is great
then kneels and bows, head to ground.
He rises to his knees, then bows again,
continuing his prayers
as pedestrians pass by.
Prayers over, he rolls his rug,
and returns to his cab,
to wait for a fare.

Peace be upon us
and the mercy of Allah.


[Published in Poetry Quarterly, Spring 2012]


The immigrant in his food truck,
parked at the edge of the lot,
sells reminders of home--
pupusas, tamales, tortillas--
to hungry laborers coming off shifts,
or waiting for work in the morning light;
to men whose families wait back home
for the monthly remittance,
or the fee for the coyotes to bring them North.

His foods remind him
of the land he farmed
and the corn he grew,
like his ancestors,
long before the Spanish,
and before the flood
of cheap corn from America.

His farm is now a memory;
views of his fields replaced by
parking lots, construction sites,
and the faces of men like him,
looking for something to take them back home.