from California Tanka Diary

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e
m
s

Meandering through hill-top neighborhood

of splendid old mansions, I loiter at wrought-iron gates

picketing the senator’s home.

   *

“Where does California’s produce go?”

shoppers ask in supermarkets stocked

with Mexican avocados and Chinese garlic.

   *

Parking in front of the apartment block,

the produce truck driver whose horn announces

his arrival with “La Cucaracha.”

   *

Visiting with us in Los Angeles, our friend

went out for a sunny walk; returned with

wrists bound, misapprehended by cops.

   *

At night our tidy clean green park is locked

to keep out rough sleepers who bed down on sidewalks

next to shopping carts full of rubbish.

   *

Standing his ground in a pair of elegant

leather shoes, offering each passer-by

a chance to buy the homeless newspaper.

   *

Within territorial boundaries of

contested city blocks, yellow fire hydrants

are marked with graffiti signatures.

   *

A homeless woman spends her days collecting

odd scraps of paper, then sits in front

of the all-night drugstore, poring over them.

   *

Confronting the suspect, police use lethal

force against a disorderly mountain

lion trespassing in a private yard.

   *

When you see me walking in the neighborhood,

stopping to admire your garden, I might be

composing a tanka in my head.

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