Like A River

Like A River

The river of life flows my way.
I am filled with its waters as I pay the rent,
give the kids their allowance,
maybe next month a log jam will come my way
and I won’t feel so lucky or grateful.

Life’s that way.

But today I breathe,
I laugh the laughter of a child’s glee as I play tug of war with my dog
and I sing the Robin’s song of spring when the rays of sun remind me of better days ahead.

Then, like a stopped river, my neighbor Bruce gets a death sentence from his doctor,
pancreatic cancer.
Who would think
such a small organ,
cloistered deep within the body
would have the power to summon death so quickly.

Hospice on the way.

He counts the days of his life,
treasures what remains.
And I remember, I should look at life that way. Sing its praises
that-away, every day, come what may.
Still, I pause and feel the guilt of my gratitude that it isn’t me.
So grateful God that it isn’t me who must say goodbye so soon
with so many moments left to treasure,
to no longer feel a warm embrace or have a sweet kiss rest upon my lips.
I am not ready, to have the joys of my life ended, ended, ended, so soon.

I Pine

I Pine

I know the craziness will pass,
and that it’s all just a moment in time
and all I need do is bide my time inside.

Yet, I pine for the feel of soil under my feet,
between my fingers and under my nails,
and I wash my hands,
not because I fear Covid,
the microbial menace I cannot see
until it is too late,
because I do.

I long for the isolation of my little garden
but not the separation from my friends.

In my garden, social distance doesn’t matter
unless it is to give a wide birth
to a friendly bee
who I envy the way it spends its time
caressing the stigma and pistils of blossoms
soon to be fruit.

I pine for a warm embrace
as I video chat with my children
and am one sad story away from a river of tears
as I worry if we will be the next tale of grief.

My son, in a mask, does a doorway visit
to drop off masks he has crafted for our use

He says,
“Use them so others feel safe when you and mom need to shop”.
We are the Tuesday morning shoppers between seven and eight,
the time allotted for the elderly to shop,
a sign of the times.
Wishing it would all go away,
and once again I can pat my neighbor on the back
or sit across from friends and chat.

The Farmer Calls For The Migrant

The Farmer Calls For The Migrant.

La pisca los busca,
y la siguen.

They follow the crops like hungry sheep,
who seek greener pastures, only they
must feed first the shepherds
with the labor of their hands
and wash the feet of the patrón, with the sweat of their brow.

They face the cold and dampness of the early morn,
no reluctance in their hastened steps.
The midday sun lashes them with rays of heat
that roasts them to a copper brown

The brown that some in town resent.

The essential worker that picks from dawn to dusk.
Some sleep in rundown shacks approved by
USDA, or slumlord hovels, all they can afford.

They exist, but their sacrifice, is a non-existent thought to the squeezer of the melon or watermelon thumper.
A penny a pound to face the dangers of the field.
Five pair of hands, five sets of legs, five aching backs.
Mother, father, sister and brothers,
it takes a family to make ends meet.

Some must choose, to feed the belly or make the rent.
Vacations are for gringos, and Their children.

Some migrants get to stay,
some run away when the migra shouts,
“Show me your papers.” and “Como te llamas?”

In a poetic refrain, we feel the pain of Jesus, Maria y Jose,
but they are invisible,
to the buyer of the apple or the peach, those who carefully select from the abundant shelves
of uptown grocers,
the fruits of the migrant’s labor.

Who Is The Beacon For

Who is the Beacon For

On a stage,
wrapped in Old, glory,
to a crowd as white as driven snow.
Those, who claim the reflection of supreme perfection,
the color without hue.

With hope in hand, they listen,
and like a hollow wind through vacant canyon,
the politician bellows: “We will protect and preserve what is rightfully ours!”
And the crowd cheers.
The only contrast in the jungle of chalk, is a singularity, a fly in milk that taints the snow.
And in those numbers, they will stay.

The rest, from afar,
hear the loud thunder of the Aryan-like men.
Elected white-hopes,
who are wrapped in a promise
to re-claim from its shores, the America of old.
The America,
of WHITE, red, and blue.

But what of the yellow, black, and brown?
The back of the bus crowd.
Those, who labor in her shops,
shelter in her shacks,
sleep in her streets.
They claim her too!

But they are drained of tears—if any remained,
They’d share, with the complxionless, callous politician,
tyrannical men who lack contrition,

They’d lend them their pain,
hoping to sway the pale face
that leads the race
to strip them of their rights,
and line their prisons with their young,
so they may sit peacefully, in the serenity,
of White pews, singing the hymns of white gods.

Secure in their station, full of erudition,
they hammer-out their fate
in hallowed halls of justice,
wearing hearts that match the marble of the pillars,
and are as hollow as its chambers.

New Masters,
of old familiar legislation,
their vision obscured by plenty,
colored faces are hidden from their sight.
The abandoned children of the nation, those fathered by many,
who by an embarrassed mother,
are swaddled tightly in blankets of red, white, and blue,
to hide their yellow, black, and brown.

They, the people who make the Red of the White, blue and uneasy.
They, who plead to thee, O sweet land of liberty
to let thy crown of brotherhood be good,
for under one nation we are all blanketed.

They pledge allegiance to you!

They labor for you!
And they die for you.
In many wars, they shared their blood with thee, O sweet land of liberty!
And they know—you will call on them again,
to raise the banner, and pour-out the contents of their veins.
Is it only then, that they are son or daughter?

O America, the land that they love, it’s their home too,
for they are brave as well!

They will not wallow in pity long.
for they are a great crowd who hunger and long to be of thee from sea to shining sea,
to sing a kind refrain, but they are in pain, and wonder:
For who, is the land that they love?
For who, is the protective banner
whose broad stripes and bright stars
thru the perilous fight,
won the right,
to place on its shore, a welcome mat at its door,
for the tired and the poor,
for the huddled masses who yearn to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of teeming shores,
the America who said: Send these—
the homeless tempest-tost to me

For who did you lift a lamp beside the golden door?

Who is the beacon for?

He Rests

In memory of my son Davin Villarreal who passed away July 11, 2019

He Rests

He drove off,
not knowing,
death’s coachman
would take the wheel
and collect what was on loan.

He didn’t know
death cheats at cards,
would draw five aces,
and reveal the revelation
of what happens when we die.

With the mystery unsealed,
that sacred secret,
was placed upon
his silenced lips,
what lies beyond unfolds.

In an instant he was gone.

His body,
melded and meshed
into metal and wood.
That bastion of leaf and limb still stands,
and he does not.

His spirit cast-out from his body
like Adam from the garden,
never to return,
until the trumpet blast
of judgement day.

He rests in a copper coffin
beside his grandfather’s grave.

He went there often
to ponder the old man’s wisdom.
And I will visit his,
to ponder what might have been.

No answers for the unnaturalness,
that a son should pass, before his father.

Now I see glimpses of ghosts,
and hear the wisps and whispers
of fond recollections of what was.

I see him in the child holding tightly
to a father’s hand,
like his in mine,
once upon a time.

I see him in the tales told by parents,
first words, first steps, first day of school.

In the loneliness of a sleepless night,
in the stillness of my dim-lit room,
I see him faintly from the corner of my eye.

I hear him in the laughter of his daughter.

I hear “No Papa!”
When I steal a sinful bite of something sweet.

I see him, I hear him, but I cannot hold him
or slap him on the knee.

When he was a child, I would peak in
and find him in peaceful sleep.
I’d say goodnight,
but there is no hearing
no awareness,
no sight or sound
in the silence of sleep,
just as there is none now
in the permanence of death,
where he does not hear
or know my grief.

I could not bear it, if he could.