Wave To Salinas
Diamond amid coal cinders,
little city with large expectations,
turns dreams the distance.
When you pass by on 101
wave to Salinas for me.
Warrior-Vikings plant strawberries
in the soiled sun, dirty
fingernail freedom badges,
tans darker than carbon.
Pass by the salad bowl of the world
seasoned with the river
and wave to Salinas for me.
Oh, land of the Esselen
Santa Rita red clay dirt
the Freemont flag-spiked Gabilan Mountains
stagecoach settlement of the West
salt marsh shaken by 1800s Chinese immigrants
migrant Mexican field workers or
Alisal district pickers; where
churches bless crops and flocks—
First Baptist and Presbyterian
Mt. Nebo, Northminster,
Sacred Hart, Madonna Del Sasso
flower the skies or casserole pans
for the hungry down on Soledad; where
school children volunteer as
little silver dollars in the night sky.
At the lettuce cornrows growing in the dust,
have a wave to Salinas for me.
There, the grapes of wrath are stored
in a wine cellar across from
Fresh Express—meeting-place of the
Chavez migrant movement; where
Partners For Peace gather in solidarity
and the NAACP marches the streets
keeping Hartnell supplied with brilliance
and thousands of poets,
because in Salinas everyone is poetry,
and poets know Roy’s on North Main
had shakes that grew rosebuds in cheeks,
back before the shadow-colored Central Park
train faded away, when
Fox Theatre was the Saturday nightcap moon
looking over a bevy of Old Town shops at
glimpses of people, our greatest,
living vibrantly in a city of aggie warfare,
the paramount of California landscape
and the burning of a million souls.
When you walk, barefoot, sole-exposed on the
fire beneath our streets,
wave to Salinas