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Gregory Orfalea: California Poets Part 7, Two Poems

Gregory Orfalea

July 1st, 2024

California Poets: Part VII

Gregory Orfalea

Two Poems



There is a good wind up

Over the long grass of the outfield

And the hardpan of three infields

Soon to crack.  Dear youngest,

I was a boy here, sort of a boy,

A thirteen boy, which is the beginning

Of a wind called girl,

The beginning of hair on the chin

And the voice of a frog

And a look always to outfield.


Who are these other parents?

Who are these Mexican nannies?

They seem to belong here more than I

Who has come from the other side

Of the continent to surprise

The survivors of this family.

They smile, as parents do

In a sandbox, or lady from Michoacan.

One couple is from Georgia and probably

Longs for Georgia as I long for here.


But I am here with you,

My son, who have not been here

Before.  And that seems to be

The way of the world:  go away

If you are to multiply.  You can

Go home to the eight-foot baskets

Without nets or nets rusting.

You can go home—to the wide,

Empty outfield.  But setting home

Is the daughter or son.


I return your popsicle, Luke,

From the ice cream man in teal van

Named Lutfi who played “Lullabye

And Goodnight” through the aging streets

Of the Valley and whose scarred eye

Shines from a home he will not see again.


You give it back: “I took it already,

Dad.”  The past.  The first past

Tense from your lips!

Grains of sand funnel through your hand.



Smell of sage, my youth—

Where have you gone all these years

In the sodden East?

Author Bio:

Gregory Orfalea is the author of ten books, the latest of which is Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra's Dream and the Founding of California (Scribner). His first collection of poems, The Capital of Solitude, won the Ithaca House First Book Prize. His second, which emerged decades later, contains these poems, and is called California Rain. Eight years in the making, his novel about Syrian refugees and baseball is making the rounds of publishers as Wonder and Shame. He has taught literature, writing, and Middle Eastern American Literature at, among others, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, the Claremont Colleges, and Westmont College. His wife and he live in Santa Barbara; they have three sons and a granddaughter named Maya.


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