Tony Robles

"Of Poorly Stacked Towers" by Jonathan Reinert   (Credit:   TAYO   Issue Five)

"Of Poorly Stacked Towers" by Jonathan Reinert (Credit: TAYO Issue Five)


Nothing to Show for it

When I was growing up,
My father would tell me
That nobody was gonna
Give you nothin’ for free

And if you wanted anything,
You had to get off your
Ass and work for it

And he got up every
Morning to go to his
Janitorial job

And he would come home
And tell me to study hard,
That I don’t want to clean
Toilets for the rest of my life

And one night as I was
Sleeping I was awoken
By my father’s voice

He lay in bed in the next
Room, it must have been

And my father’s voice
Cried out:  I’m nothing

I wasn’t sure if it was
His voice, or someone
else’s, as it was 3am and
I was half asleep

And I heard the muffled
Voice of my father and
His woman for a while

And my father was like
A lot of fathers and I was
Like a lot of sons

I closed my eyes
And fell back

And my father said that
If you worked, you should

Have something to show for it

An ice box
A radio
A car
A can of shoe polish


And as hard as
He worked, I still
Heard that voice in the
Middle of the night that
Cried out, “I’m nothing’"

I guess deep down he
Felt he didn’t have

Anything to show for it

And eventually he quit
That janitorial job
And moved to Hawai’i

He found his purpose
In the thick bamboo forest

That was always in his mind
He learned the Filipino martial
Art of Eskrima which utilizes
Empty hand techniques and
Sticks of bamboo

And he also learned wood
Carving, carving his life into

Wood, telling his story and the
Story of his family

And I still remember him
Crying out, I’m nothing, in
The middle of the night

And I finally wake seeing
That he has everything to
Show for it

SF Eviction Sale

For sale:
The empty shoes of poets
A guitar body shorn of stringsGrandma’s cast iron pan with decades of
Built-on grease
A pot minus soil

For sale:
Our black skin
Our brown bones
The yellow leaves floating

In pools of our eyes

For sale:
Grandma’s tortilla hands
The guts of grandpa’s old transistor radio and his
Old racing forms
The squeaky staircase

The stained glass windows stained with wine
The murphy bed whose springs announce spring
All year round

For sale:
The rolling hills
Of the working shoulders that

Built North Beach

For sale:
An arm
A leg
A wing
A thigh
(all parts that gave their lives
To the city of St. Francis)

For sale:
The sacred playground
Where we grew up, where
The asphalt collected pieces of
Our skin like a living scrap book
Making us one with it

For sale:
The bridge that no longer connects us
The bridge with the faulty bolts
The crooked grinning street that leads

To city hall

For sale:
Our soul that is
A thin film floating
On the bay
Our heart that
Was once black, brown, yellow
Red—now bleached the color

Of nothing

For sale:
Our murals
That move across
Our skin and out of
The city

Our dignity
Our spirit
Our class
At this

Eviction sale


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