Three 2020 Poems

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal


How Was Your Valentine’s Day?


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


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.




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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