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South Mountain, a Balcony in the Sky (A Poem)


Looking Down from the Mountaintop

from a balcony in the sky

under a bright California sun

onto the Santa Clara River Valley

nothing but peaceful lives

albeit a few troublemakers

small, one-story houses

street lights on Main Street

bumpy, curvy roads

tracks with an occasional train

small private biplanes

dotting the Santa Paula night

in my little Mexican town

where the letters, SP, are carved

into my forehead.

I Share my View with the Hawks, Doves

and great horned owls

with the working class, the common folk

who catch rabbits, shave the cactus

extract nuts from avocados

cook goat heads under ground

keep the tortillas warm

swing blindly at piñatas

family and friends with close-ties

whose heads are covered by canopies

sacrifice and celebrate, cherish and adore

in unity with everyone.

Stooping, Reaching, Crouching, Kneeling

migrant workers with big hats

working endless shifts in the heat of day

at packing houses, sorting and boxing

oranges and lemons

sleeping in small one-bedrooms

in tight quarters, home away from home

far from their loved ones

but as a consolation, they all know

that Cesar Chavez was by their side

fighting for their civil rights

as the memory of Steve McQueen flies high

the strength of the mountain surrounds

time and hope, hard work and sacrifice.

My Memories are like Granite

hard and firm, lasting forever

like the two statues

policemen on motorcycles

warning residents of the broken dam

that Mulholland built but didn't care

leaky and cracked

causing the great flood

to wash innocent lives and souls away

fallen trees, homes

covered and sunk to the bottom of the sea

destroying the strong and the solid

in the wounded soul of the Santa Clara River Valley.

Now I Sit Comfortably on my Balcony in the Sky

I watch my town grow and change

watch my favorite saddle shop close

watch the good Chumash Indians disperse

taquerias come and go, film studios long since left

a Starbucks, a fancy organic supermarket

drive thru's, take-outs

no matter how slow or fast things change

my sleepy little Mexican town remains

untouched by progress, immune to earthquakes,

impervious to it all.

© 2017 Mark Tulin

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