Sunday, January 06, 2019

Change for the Better?

Alley Sign
—Poem and Photos by Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA

(Sacramento 2019)

shouldn’t bother me
after all these years
and it doesn’t
not really, but…

before i saw this sign
on a recent walk
through the stylishly new
trendy area in Sactown,
couldn’t help
but let my dusty brain
wander backwards

i’m standing in front of
freshly minted, upscale stores,
formerly Crystal Ice,

staring across the way
where Orchard Supply
used to be
and shake my head
in cross-eyed amazement

flashy shops, eating stops,
and a line for coffee
out the door

further down, spittin’ distance really,
where Safeway is (and that shiny horse)
and wondering what happened
to the stampeding buffalo mural

change for the better? 
yeah, i guess,
just not for someone like me,
who prefers walk speed,
rotary dial phones, and cheap beer
at cozy hole-in-the-walls

about a block
from the high-ho hubbub,
i spotted
a freshly minted street sign
no, it was an alley sign,

Tomato Alley

stopped dead in my tracks
had to touch it
make sure it was real

i looked down the alley
and across the street
clean as a whistle
no field, no plants,
not even a patch of dirt

“means nothing,”
i tell myself,
“just a sign”

sure, i worked the fields
a hundred-thousand acres
of tomatoes, and everything else
that grew out of the ground
backbreaking labor, blinding heat,
for peanuts

means nothing,
another time, another life

i mean,
it’s not exactly sacred ground,
living and dying
in those fields,
nobody remembers, nobody cares

shouldn’t bother me
after all these years,
and it doesn’t,
not really


—Medusa, with our thanks to Charles Mariano for today’s fine poetry and photos!

 Farmworkers, 1966

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.