Friday, November 11, 2011

To Live Here

1. Oakland, California

To live here
Among these skyrises
& screeching cars,
These crowded lanes
& sculpted parks,

You must take air,
And taking air commits you
To sharing it:

With the Korean woman
& her Sikh boyfriend
Enjoying a profusion of dishes
At Jonga House;

With the African-American man
& his Chinese wife
Walking protectively around her parents
Along Grand Avenue;

With the bi-racial girl
& her polyethnic friends
Offering you their
Unneeded bus transfers;

With the ducks
& the geese
Floating gently in a line
Across Lake Merritt;

With the sturgeons
& the stripers
Living in dark waters under the fishing pier
Jutting from the embarcadero

On which is attached a sign
Warning of health risks
In six foreign

2. Fresno, California

To live here
Among these shrinking fields
& expanding strip malls,
These disappearing farms
& blossoming track houses,

I must take air,
And taking air commits me
To sharing it:
With the Latino immigrant sellings roses
& the homeless veteran panhandling
At the same Blackstone street corner,
Each hoping for just one more dallar.

With Mr. Pedraza
& his Hmong and Mexican students
trying to build
a better Sunnyside High School,
a better Fresno,
a better world.

With my African American,
White, Latino, Middle -Eastern
& Asian students at Fresno City College,
writing alone
and writing together
to better our futures.

With Renaldo,
& Pos,
& Andre,
& all you good folks
who have come here tonight
to share
this poetic air.

Thank you!

“To live here one must take air, but taking air commits you to sharing it…”
~ Robert Bly

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