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¬† Hear Al Young’s “What December Remembers,” his last poem of 2012 for KQED’s The California Report, plus some end-of-year reflections with show host Scott Shafer.


Courtesy images


St. Anthony’s Dining Hall | 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 √Āguila, 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.
¬ŅLa 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.

© 2012 Al Young


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