Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bixby Park Tunnel

When I was a boy,   
Nearly seven decades ago, 
I walked two miles 
To the beach 
All by myself. 
I walked down 
Junipero Avenue. 
I rolled my eyes 
Knowing how the locals 
Mispronounce it as 
One a pair oh. 
I’d cross Anaheim Street
And read the Cabart Theater Marquee
Looking for a pair of movies
I’d like to see.
I continued on
Passing by the California Bungalow houses
On my Independent Press Telegram
Paper route.
I’d watched the cars whizzing by
As I’d wait for the light on 7th Street.
I’d pass Doctor Logan Jackon’s house,
Glad that I didn’t need to get a shot.
I crossed Broadway 
To the Park Pantry restaurant,
And hoped that someday 
I could afford to eat there.
I'd stroll through Bixby Park 
Scanning, Searching, and hunting  
For any friends who might 
Want to play at the beach. 
When there were, 
And when there weren't, 
I'd cross the park 
From one corner 
To the corner 
Of Cherry and Ocean.  
I'd descend the stairs 
Into the Bixby Park tunnel 
That went under  
Ocean Boulevard 
To the beach.  
I always found friends
Some I knew
Some I’d just met.
We'd play at the shore
And play tag with the waves.
Some kids had skim boards
Some had floats.
We’d play all day.
When we got hungry
We pull out the bologna sandwich
That we’d made at home.
Our teeth crunched the sand  
That the wind always,
Always, always blew
Onto our sandwiches.
When it was time to go home
I'd go into the tunnel
And back through the park.
I needed to be home
Well before it got dark.
I am sad 
That the tunnel 
Is no more.  
I suppose 
When children of ten 
Were no longer allowed 
To walk to the beach 
All by themselves, 
They sealed the tunnel, 
And the memories 
And only left a mural  
At the ocean side  
Of the tunnel.  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Peace on Earth

I am grateful for peace on earth.
There is peace on Earth. 
There has always been peace on Earth. 
It starts with me, and you, and anyone. 
I am at peace, right now. 
My house is at peace, right now.
My cul de sac is at peace, right now.
And so it goes.
The sun does not shine on all of Mother Earth "
At the same time.
When we are on the dark side,
We can shine our own light to bring peace on Earth.
When I let someone, who is in a hurry, cut in line,
I bring peace.
When I stop breathe and let it go,
I bring peace.
When I see that there is no "other"
Because we are all earthlings,
I am peace.

Friday, September 07, 2018

When I Was Eight

My eight-year-old face


Against the drinking fountain

At Saint Matthews Grammar school

When the bigger boy,

The older boy,

The tall blond white boy,

Shoved me

While I took

A drink of water.

“That’s fountain’s for white kids,”

He yelled and sneered.

“You’re a nigger.
And you can’t drink from there.”
“He ain’t no nigger.”

Another boy said,

“He’s a wetback .”

“He’s a wetback nigger.”

The blond boy said.

“Look at his big fat lips.

I bet he gets haircuts

To hide his curly hair.”

In 1957

I was new

To this nearly all white school,

New to this city,

And new to this state,
That I soon learned to hate.

Lucky for me

I was rescued by Sister Marie,

The school principal.

She called an assembly

Gathered the whole school.
She stood me in front

Of all the white children

And loudly declared,

“Every summer day

You all go out and lay

At the beach

To get a tan

As dark as you can.

You burn your skin.

It turns red and peels.

And you try again.”

Sister Marie

Took hold of me

And pulled up my arm

Exposing my dark tan skin.

“God gave this boy

A natural tan,

Darker than you ,
Darker than me

Ever can.
Do let me catch you

Teasing or hitting him

Or I will call your parents

And expel you from school.”

I thought Sister Marie

Was really cool.

But I was no fool.

I knew the white boys

Would find other ways

To be cruel.