Monthly Archives: May 2013

Castro Camera

Castro Camera

This past week was Harvey Milk Day.  Milk was an amazing man, a flawed hero, a great gift and a significant loss.   I wrote this short piece last November in his honor.

 

Castro Camera

He was just another Lithuanian-American
Jewish boy who played football and joined the navy
a straight-laced actuary who loved the opera
and kept private matters private.
But then came San Francisco.

He said, “I finally reached the point
when I had to become involved or shut up.”

On Castro Street he flowered
turning to his neighborhood
unflinching in his call for civil rights
Ten months a Supervisor, till his
shocking death, November 27, 1978.

He said, “If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

After the trial, the White Nights
the riots and the beatings
they laid his ashes to rest
beneath the sidewalk at 575 Castro.
He was my age, more or less.

 

Harvey Milk Day poster

 

Don’t-Ask-Babe

Don't ask Babe

 

I wrote this one as part of the April 2013 Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day challenge. Just another day in the neighborhood…

 

Don’t-Ask Babe

I’d been sitting in the street with my hand up the
left front wheel well of the van like some large
animal veterinarian checking the cervix
of a past-due rhinoceros. Been there for at
least half an hour, effing and blinding about
why Chrysler can’t put the turn signal bulb
in a place accessible to normal sized hands

and I look up and there’s Don’t-Ask Babe
coming down the sidewalk towing his entire
forty-two-inch Craftsman rolling tool chest,
with twenty ball-bearing drawers, black.
(Don’t-Ask Babe, you wonder? His dad was
a huge Yankee fan back in the old country,
and it’s a bit of a touchy subject. So… you know, don’t ask).

I look up and he says, That’s a ’97 isn’t it?
and he starts pulling open drawers like he’s
playing whack-a-mole with a socket set. No, Babe,
I’m good, I say. He wheels around. What?
You think just cause I’m some stupid Mexican
I can’t fix your shiddy van? Then he flashes
his trademark smile and hands me a wrench.

Anyway, he says, I’m from the Dominican.

 

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