THE SEA HAWK AND THE NEEDLE FISH

for Bonnie Flach

 

We are digitally immortalised now

by chance – erstwhile strangers, flesh, fish and fowl.

My San Diego social media

poetry acquaintance – someone I am

never likely to meet in a city

I am unlikely ever to visit –

has taken and blogged a photo

of a sea hawk and a needle fish.

 

Against a clear, pale blue Pacific sky

the raptor, its wings splayed in lift,

clutches the fish,

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JOHN’S GRILL

Out of the fretwork shadow of the Bay Bridge

dominating the office window,

away from Kaspar Gutman and Wilma Cook,

from Iva Archer and Ruth Wonderly,

away from the cable cars’ ratchet and clang,

the horns in the distant bay, out of the fog

and into the grilled meat fug of gossip,

Lucky Strikes and waiters’ bustling hustle,

Sam Spade orders chops, baked potato

and sliced tomatoes – in two dimensions,

always black and white, ten point or ten foot high,

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ORIENTATION

Walking by Washington Square, to catch

a cable car on the Powell-Mason line

to take us to our Geary Street hotel,

we paused to watch some Chinese elders

at Tai Chi on the lawns before the church –

their graceful and controlled aggression.

We passed a raised bed – the label told us –

of ‘Collinsia heterophylla

aka Purple Chinese Houses –

so-called because of the pagoda shape

of the blooms.’ In the middle of the bed,

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ALCATRAZ

While we were finishing last night’s pizza –

waiting on the quay for the tour to start –

a fog arrived from the Pacific.

We had left Fisherman’s Wharf in full sun –

the same sun that had peeled my forehead

drinking merlot al fresco at a wine bar

in Sausalito the day before.

I thought acerbically of the remark

Mark Twain, it is said, never made

about the coldest winter he had known

being a summer in San Francisco.

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AT THE END OF THE PIER

Past Songs of Yesteryear, Mystic Morgana,

and other booths – purveying Flags of the World,

Country & Western Memorabilia,

Decorous South Sea Shells, Home Made Welsh Fudge;

past the sustainable hardwood benches

with withered in memoriam bouquets;

over the planking with its measured gaps

through which to view, like a bioscope,

the incoming tide shimmy then shake

the fronds of bronze weeds among the rocks,

slap, strike the elegant, cast iron stanchions;

next to where even the line fishermen

are starting to stow their gear,

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