Three 2020 Poems

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

****

How Was Your Valentine’s Day?

free-vintage-kids-valentine-card-puppy-with-red-heart-card-in-mouth

Walking into the
lobby at my workplace,
I see Gary waiting
by the Snack Shop.
He spots me and
walks up to me
and says, “Hey Luis
I wish I was like
you.” He points to my
stomach.  It is not
a good thing.  He is
calling me fat, but
he is hungry.  I
am carrying some
leftovers, pancakes
from the Pantry.  I
hand the take-out box
to Gary.  He thanks me
and tells me, “I am hungry.”
Right before I go
toward the elevator
he asks, “How was
your Valentine’s Day?
How about that
Jennifer Aniston?
I keep seeing her
driving around?”

***

I’m Not Going to Make You Sick

0622201210

Crossing the street
at Temple and Hill
in Downtown L.A.,
I see Gary for the first
time since the pandemic.
He is still living
in the streets,
looking a little
less disheveled.
He tells me Luis,
can you help me
out with some money
to get a coffee,
some sugar, or
a cigar? I’m not
going to make you
sick, I promise.
That thought never
crossed my mind
before. I talk to
him through
my mask and notice
he has a mask
too, hanging from
his neck. I hand
Gary the three bucks
I had in my pocket
knowing it is
just enough for a
cup of coffee.
I tell Gary to keep
safe, to keep that
mask on. He said,
he would and asked
whatever happened
to David and Michael.
I told him they must
be working at home
as we go our
separate ways.
I thought Gary must
be doing a little
better, taking his
medications perhaps.
It was the first time
he did not ask me
how Jennifer
Aniston was doing.

***

Breathtaking

cityscape-night-skyline-skyscraper

The view of the Downtown skylight is
breathtaking at night.  I look at the tall
buildings.  The smell of the streets are
something else.  A bit of urine, a bit
of defecation, a person could die in
these streets tonight.  I walk briskly
and I go off on my way.  I observe
the motionless person sleeping on the
bus bench.  This view is far from
breathtaking.  Yet I cannot look away.
The gender is unrecognizable.  This is
this person’s bed.  In an hour or so I
will be home in a bed not as hard.  I
should not complain about my days.

*******

Luis lives in California and works in Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared in print and online since the late 1980s.

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