Friday, December 11, 2009

Fresno, Bests

(Reflections from Pasadena)

Glorious farms without water,
a new dust bowl stirred by old politics.

Wind-tossed signs
riding roadside fences
demanded action.
Heckler confronted comedian,
neck-brace man kept the peace.

I watched it on you tube.

Fresno – a place to sleep
on the road south
to our borrowed home
with the angels.

(After the Oakland high
in the hills
when the sun
and drowned in the luminous bay.

We shared the writer
with his friends
his family that night
fed us and

Their son's birthday
regarded highly
as he stepped into
his future.)

Motel breakfast
with the brother-in-law
gifts of dried meat
false miniatures of candy-flavored liquor
cheetos and an auction book.

Tales of rat-pack life
produced fervent smiles
and fertile laughter.

Night avalanches of merchandise
purchased on sale
but never opened.

Thinking of selling the stuff,
he offered,
his sister mentioned his seven cars
one in Colorado
he hasn’t lived in Lamar for 40 years.

We sped away from Fresno
stopped at a Basque restaurant
in Bakersfield
where an Asian woman
seated us
a trailer blonde served
not Basque food
with slow rudeness.

I wondered if the women
listened to avalanches
in dark hallways
while they wrote poems
about their lost cook.

copyright 2009 Manuel Ramos


One of our readers recently asked for lists of the best of the year. Check out this previous post for recommended short story collections. Other bests, off the top of my head:

Best Magazine for Making Me Feel Smarter Than I Am -- Oxford American

Best CD I Heard For the First Time This Year -- Aman Iman by Tinariwen (although the oldies collection Ruff & Smooth [When a Man Falls on His Knees] issued by Ruff & Smooth Records [Jerry Murillo] is a very close second. I picked it up at Norwalk Records.)

Best Memory That I Hope I Don't Forget -- there are many, but watching Jaden, one of the grandchildren, demonstrating his style of "swimming" in the Disneyland Hotel swimming pool, definitely was a highlight.

Best Thing I Did This Year For Myself -- running even though my muscles rebelled and my bones despaired.


Last December I did a piece on quotations of the year; I hope to repeat this month (with new quotes, of course.) Watch for it.



Viva Liz Vega! said...

Your poem was a nice way to start the day. It reminded me of some of the pieces in Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California's Great Central Valley.

Manuel Ramos said...

Thank you!

msedano said...

fresno to bakersfield brings back memories. that poem sent me into wet-day reverie as i sit in my pasadena pad. the white ash is the wizard's wood, you know, so it sounds like fresno left its mark on you beyond a mere thirty winks. (a fresno is a white ash, como sabes).