Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Oct 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Poems of Jeff Tagami

ae poetry JeffTagamiEditor’s note:  Jeff Tagami—poet, editor, teacher, and lecturer at Cabrillo College—is the author of “October Light,” a collection of poems. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, and he was featured in the PBS film, The United States Of Poetry. Tagami died recently, after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, the poet Shirley Ancheta, and his sons, Miles and Travis.

 

My Father Takes to the Road
My father, who never owned a new car,
brings a used one home every Friday
from Tom Lawson’s Used Buick.
He takes me along for a test drive,
and I admire the almost new
tuck-and-roll and cherry paint job.
“Are you gonna buy it?” I ask,
forgetting last week’s disappointment,
the station wagon with the fold-down seat,
which fit my seven-year-old body.
“We’ll see,” he coos, teasingly.
Still dressed in his work clothes,
he drives ever so slowly
down the dirt road that divides
the strawberry fields, trying not
to stir up the dust.
I laugh when he steers with no hands.
He points the car west
toward the ocean, the same one
he crossed on a steamer at thirteen,
leaving behind an island boyhood
of bare feet, a bamboo hut with floorboards
you could see through.
He doesn’t have to say anything.  I already know.
I know my father, who, after a hard day’s work
relishes this drive which must come to an end:
before the hired braceros
return to the bunkhouse
and break into song;
before the hot smell of flour tortillas
permeates the air; before my seven
brothers and sisters are bathed;
before Mr Kralj, the Slavonian landlord,
arrives in his Ford pick-up
to pick up his share,
his half of the week’s profit.
My father, who pushes back the car seat
and unlaces his boots, who will not buy
this car today or any other, is trying
to bear down on the wheel,
is steering with his wide brown feet.

 

Song of Pajaro
Pajaro the men thigh deep in mud
who are cutting cauliflower
the tractor they must depend
to pull them out
the catering truck selling hot coffee

Pajaro the children who clean
the mud from their father’s boots
They sleep They wake
to the smell of cauliflower growing
in fields that are not dreams
fields that begin under their bedroom windows
and end in a world they do not know
from the mountains to the river
from the river to the beach

Now Pajaro is tired it wants to sleep
The packing sheds shut down for the night
The trucks close their trailer doors
and the southern Pacific leaves town
(having got what it wanted)

This Pajaro of my mother leaving work
who at this moment is crossing the bridge of no lights
in her Buick Electra with wings like a huge bird
crossing over the black river toward home
where she will make the sign of the cross
over the cooked rice in the name of the Lord
and prepare for the table
a steaming plate of cauliflower.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher