The Leaf Blowers
The leaf blowers gather
at 7 a.m. They are
invisible, low paid workers
that our children have no dreams
to aspire to.
Their roar awakens us
as if a nest of outraged bees
outside our window.
But each leaf blower wears ear muffs,
and isn't aware of the cries
of a child being thrashed.
Or of a couple's firefight, cups
and dishes flying like shrapnel.
Each moves slowly down the street
and has the time to think,
a commodity we only dream of.
Homicides here are more common
than birthdays. Again we have
the block cordoned off, the victim
facedown in the street.
Neighbors shrug as officers
interview them. "A man
is run over in mid day," my partner
moans, "and no one sees or hears
a thing. We shouldn't be scraping
young men off the streets
like gum." Maybe no one wants
to end up like him, I say.
The streets lights keep changing.
The hookers keep moving farther
down the street. A mother
looks down from a window, cracked
like the windshield of that
Cadillac parked a block away. It
slowly pulls away as I stare
in its direction, its fins
slicing the air.
Love Letter from a Palm
I was the potted palm at the back of the stage
in our second grade play, and I was happy.
At high school dances I never led anyone
onto the dance floor.
For decades I was as shy
as a hermit thrush.
I stammered when I met you,
but I was quickly schooled
by your kisses.
Even today I'm amazed at how lucky
a former palm is to find himself
center stage in your life.
Inside the Japanese Cultural Exchange Center
A marvelous girl with black hair
held a silver flute
between her long fingers.
She was playing a song about winter.
A bird landed on the tip
of her fluteas if it were a branch,
the falling dust of snow
I know it was there because it sang
as the girl played,
the girl swaying in a light breeze,
her slim waist wrapped
in a flower print skirt
of ageless cherry blossoms.
I stood as the song ended
A hand touched my arm.
Dear, we have to go.
My wife and I walked from the Center
arm in arm, wilting slightly
as we were greeted
They’re red faced and bald
and couples usually mate for life.
While one shops for supper
the other putters at home,
incubating the clutch.
They savor hearty meals. But like
any large family gathered
at a dinner table, they’re not shy
voicing their opinions,
hissing at those
with rude table manners.
Like us, sociable but shy,
they make good lovers,
and live out contented lives,
indifferent or unaware of their less
than photogenic allure.