About a year ago, California's former Poet Laureate, Al Young, came to us with an idea that he write an original poem for The California Report each month of 2012. Well, we took him up on that and over the past year he's provided memorable verses, weaving in unique California names and places with state history, references to the seasons and personal reflections. He joins us to talk about the project and read his final piece for 2012.
WHAT DECEMBER REMEMBERS
St. Anthony's Kitchen | Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco
How good it feels always to feed and feed
not really the poor, but actual people, table
by table, more than just one mouth at a time;
next-generation descendents and ancestors,
one by one, one on one, one to one. What fun
to deify and defy, to feed yourself, to last.
Body Shop El Aguila, San Ysidro, with its big sign in English: "MAY WE HAVE THE NEXT DENTS?"
Yes, like in Stormy Monday Blues, the eagle flew
on Friday, and Saturday he went out to play
- except this year's Christmas fell on a Tuesday.
He needed him a hard-work weekend long enough
to knock out a foundry full of fender-benders.
To make ends meet, to lavish, to water his wayward,
can't-speak-Spanish daughters with digital gifts;
to rescue their brother, to win back their mother,
he needed back-busting blessings to lose those blues.
¿La vida loca? Yes, life was still whatever it was,
his sweet and cruel Christmases the craziest.
The Poet at Three
The poet at three crunching on a candy cane,
sucking on an orange. Sandy Claws knocking
back a cold Co-Cola, all sly, all wise, all smiley
and winky, all White Christmas dreamy, messing
with the kid: a snowy red picture that sticks.
All the way from Mississippi's Gulf Coast
the poet will clear Cal's glossy golf courses
(Pebble Beach, Hidden Valley, Pelican Hill,
Old Brockway, Coyote Moon, Incline Village)
to land and hang with joy. To and from worlds
he'll get to know, the poet will take heart and give.