Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today they came to pick up the dead in a shiny
white Mack trash truck from our municipal complex.
Some of these trees have been on the curb for weeks.
Once the center of attention, focus of the celebrations
with its special corner of the living room, decorated with
ornaments, some family heirlooms, souvenirs of past trips,
a child’s project from first grade, lights that blink sometimes.
Captured in holiday photos we never print, but take anyways.
Always in the background when we post to social network pages
and send as email attachments to the scattered and distant.

The driver and his young helper take turns getting out of the cab.
Carhartt jackets, fluorescent green caps, waterproof work boots.
Trying hard to look cool, not wanting to look like they’re working.
But it’s hard to look dignified when you’re tugging at the trunk of
somebody’s old tree covered over and frozen in a foot of snow.
I can’t resist rolling down my window when the truck drives by,
even though temps are in the single digits this Monday morning.
I want to smell the garbage truck, full of mashed up evergreens
going down my street leaving a scented trail like they’ve got a million
miniature pine tree air fresheners hanging from its rearview mirror.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I go upstairs before my wife, she always
has so much work to do and when I’m tired
I just go to bed. Before I climb the wooden stairs
I check the doors to make sure they’re locked.
I turn the porch lights off. I put the thermostats
down to sixty four. I peek in at my sleeping son,
say- “Catch you in the morning. Have a good sleep”.
Each night I like to open the blinds so that I can lie
on my pillow and look out and see the street light.
Sometimes I even crack the window a little bit to
listen to the cars glide by now and then across the
slick pavement from the melting piles of snow.
I close my eyes and pay tribute to my grandfather
each night by saying his simple bedtime prayer of
thanks-“Good ol’ bed.” Then I flip over my pillow
to the cooler side, feel at peace and drift off to sleep.

Friday, January 21, 2011


for Baldemar Garza Huerta

I knew he was sick for a while, but it
still comes as a shock to hear of someone’s
passing when they’d been in your life so long.
Like a friend from your childhood or a classmate.
No, more like an old Uncle that you watched age
before your eyes, getting gray, heavy, moving slow.
And of course I won’t forget that day in Sam Goody,
a wise ass salesman couldn’t resist saying-
You want what? Nobody still listens to that!
And when I sat in my living room that afternoon
blasting Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, I sang along
and raised my fist in remembrance of the good times.
But you know I couldn’t help crying when I heard the
first few twangy notes, the nasal sounding syllables-
“and I’ll be there before the next tear drop falls”.