1975 is Alive

A penny sits

In my


The year on it

Is hard to make

Out but it reads


Lincoln’s haggard

Face a

Copper mugshot

I remember ‘75

Like yesterday

My uncles were the

Young sons of


Drinking wine

And singing songs

And dressing like


(they were)

in ‘75

my father

told me

don’t bullshit

a bullshitter

and other such

profound words

in ’75 my

uncles shook

my hand

real handshakes

that meant


their still



it was a



I keep

It in

My pocket



© 2006 Tony Robles

The Flyin’ Lion of SF

He rides around
the city on
his bike

often times
wearing a
tank top

his 50 year old muscles
taut and firm
showing through

His smile, just
as taut, just
as wide as the
bay bridge

and I remember
meeting him
at City College

we never spoke
but we had a class
together, political

and I remember
the lion tattoo he
had on his arm

it lay on his shoulder
ready to pounce (and
sometimes purr) upon
any problem or obstacle

later I enrolled
in the school’s boxing

and I would see him
work out, pushing himself
and pushing
others to push themselves

he weighed a buck and a
quarter while I weighed
in at a buck and a half or so

Once, we were thrown
into a circle where we proceeded
to “go to the body” and he
hit me with a six punch
combination to the gut

(I’m not sure if it was a six
punch combination, but he
hit me with so many shots
that it could have been anywhere
from 6 to 60)

Later he turned pro
and was on a winning
streak and I thought that
he might be a world champion

(A one in a million)

and one day I saw
him fight the
“Golden Boy” on TV

and during the introductions
the camera caught his face
and he mouthed the words
“San Francisco”

and he fought and came
up short and the “Golden Boy”
went on to more gold while the
words “San Francisco” continued
to ring in our ears like a bell
ending a fight

and what followed
was more wins and
some losses

(more wins than losses)

He nearly beat a fighter
who’d go on to become
world champion

(He had the guy down but
let him off the hook)

And after 20 years of
fighting he hung it

He now teaches boxing
for a living, always thankful
to those who taught him
the art—for free

and he rides his bike
from gym to gym, his
head of red hair still
brilliant, his body still young

A tooth is missing
when he announces his
smile but his heart fills
in the gap

And he rides the
circumference of
the city

a city not large
enough to hoist
the championship belt

that is

(c) 2015 Tony Robles


they come from
a deep place
where harmonies
fill the lungs and
exhume what is
supposedly dead

and what’s that
shimmer seen by
the not-so-naked,
decked out

visible to
cargo ships
space crafts
tractor trailers
semi’s and tour
buses just passing

if they only

riding low
in the highness
of high and high
in the lowness
of low

cruising in candy
colors signaling the
embers that chart our
course and sparkle like
the most intricate mathmatical
equation fit to the occasion and
always broken down to its
simplest terms

well made
with seats that
conform to every dimple,
curvature and indentation
in the fossilized cushioned
immortality that is you

and the speakers
speak, saying what we could
say, should say, would

An extension of

An extension of

(No air freshener necessary)

where the one you
love sits close and
sticks to the ribs
like rice and beans

Rolling up on us
nice and slow like
an old 45 on a turntable
that gave us the courage
to turn the tables on anything
and everything meant to hold
us back

Monte Carlo’s

Gliding like a
line of aircraft

carrying not
air but our


Carrying it all
like our mothers
when they carried us

before showing
us off to the


(c) 2016 Tony Robles


Blue Corners

From blue corners
It leaps like a
Strong note, a
Thrust of wind
That refuses to
Hold back

When talking to
Yourself becomes
Talking to the wind

When inside becomes
Outside in a disrobing
Of affairs considered

From blue corners
The glaring sound of
unpolished brass

From blue corners
The residue of the
Crystallized mind

From blue corners
The absence of
Color when no other
Color will do

You must
Let it go and color
It the color it was
Meant to be

When painted
Into a corner

That is

(C) Tony Robles 2016

Finding your voice

I lost a set
Of keys a
While back

Keys to my
House, my
Job, my bike
Lock and keys
Whose holes
Are a mystery

The right key
Opens the right
Door and there
Are lots of doors
That you’ll walk
In to with the wrong

And sometimes you
Have the right key
And the right door

And the right sound
Hits you like a
Right cross and
That sound becomes
A part of you

And that key
Gets in your

Letting out
What you
Have to say

as only you
Can say it

In the right

(C) Tony Robles 2016

Ode to DPW

You couldn’t wait
To clear the tents
And what you
Deemed junk off that
Stretch of sidewalk
Known as 17th st.

The pictures of
Our fallen were
Taken down and,
If not for those among
Us who refuse to take
Shit and to have folks
Take our shit,

Our altar with
The flowers
And rosaries
Would have been
Taken too

Of course our
Bones are buried
Deep in the ground
And our skin stripped
Of murals that live
In memory

But DPW guy,
You look a lot
Like me

In fact, you
Look like a
Guy who is
One paycheck
Away from a tent

Or one twitch or
Smirk away from
A bullet

DPW=dark person working

Trying to keep
Your shit while

Taking our
shit away

(C) Tony Robles 2016

Some random thoughts

Facebook is oftentimes a digital Life cereal with a million little Mikey’s (myself included) that “like” anything.


The problem with these hipsters is that they think a taco supreme is a love supreme


Sick of the slack jawed slickness of the thrift store thieves (hipsters) that thrive among us.


When faces start looking like feces, then perhaps it’s time to give humanity a break for a while.

You ain’t got to be a poet to do poetic things


There is always an armchair quarterback in a straitjacket criticizing the rest of us who are trying to do something.


The patina that should cover SF is actually the lackluster luster of a bureaucratic burnish whose fluorescent glow radiates unaccountability.


The tech geniuses write a lot of code. They haven’t figured out one for conduct though


Hell with the status bro


Frisco offal is the guts shown by the Frisco 5 for the world to see. It is truly what Frisco is made of.






Heart of Frisco

Frisco grew up
in the back of
the class

he was on
the back of the
bus holding it up
as it rolled down
the streets and its

nobody wanted to
say Frisco’s name
because it was the
“F” word

(and who wants an F?)

and Frisco flexed
his muscles like a
bent note on a musical
scale to show the world
who he was

Frisco sweat flowed
from his pores and
he poured from his lips
the reality of his Frisco life

And Frisco breathed
Frisco air and tasted
Frisco sounds before
those things became
bottled and sold

and Frisco moves slower
now, the Frisco air from
his lungs coming in puffs

and the doctors
couldn’t find nothing

Take two asprin
they said

and he took
off his shirt
and lay down

on his chest
was the word
Frisco, in blood

The sun slowly

and his heart


(c) 2016 Tony Robles


some of the most
beautiful gestures
are those of the head

the slight lifts, turns
and tilts with twinges
Of indifference, anger,

insight or

the head holding
the mind at
full tilt, headstrong
in its position

the jackpot of
a fleeting moment
that we remember
or store in the annals
of abridged thoughts

still, it’s the
simple nod
that pierces me

a simple movement
of acknowlegement
where not a word needs
to be said

a nod
says all

it can tell
where you’re
from, where
you’ve been

there are those
that nod off with or
without the lights

but there are
those who
are awake

observing and
acting in their
own small ways

Oftentimes imperceptible
To the wind and to
The sun’s rays

doing what
needs to be

And to

i give
the nod

(c) 2016 Tony Robles

A Hunger Strike Reflection

The Frisco 5 hunger strike was in its 5th or 6th day. I had visited the encampment each day. Each day I saw familiar faces, new faces. I saw people in cars passing by, honking their horns in support. The strikers walked about, covered in blankets, conversing with reporters and supporters. I remember Selassie sitting in a chair, his head tilted towards the sky, eyes closed as if in communion with his inner self. Then he’d turn on the music and I felt transported back to my high school days, in the halls with the music of LTD, the Commodores and Earth Wind and fire turning the halls into a soul train dance line—oh, and classes too. It brought me back to a time when I felt the community in the pores of my skin, when I tasted every raindrop before I had to start paying for the rain that was to become bottled and packaged and presented in an app. Frisco five, five fingers on a hand that became a fist that became our heart—many people were feeling it—people outside of Frisco too. I left the encampment after visiting on a Saturday. The faces of the strikers stuck to me as I walked about. Then I heard a sound—a growl. It came from my stomach. It wasn’t a full growl, like the MGM movie lion, but a growl nonetheless—a growl that would come from a lion in the form of an animal cracker. I snuck into a liquor store and somehow a snickers candy bar landed in my pocket. How the fuck did that happen? I asked myself. I took the candy bar from my pocket, ripped it open. I looked at my reflection in the store window. Suddenly, I came up on the face of Equipto in the glass.
“What you doin’?” Equipto asked.
“Nothing” I answered, stuffing the candy bar into my pocket.
“What did you put in your pocket?”
“Come on man, I saw you put something in your pocket”
“It was, uh, a Swiss army knife”
“Man, that ain’t no knife. It was a candy bar”
Pangs of guilt ran the length of my body like an invasion of ants at picnic time. Pangs of hunger were in conflict.
“Ok man, you got me. It’s a candy bar”
“You ain’t got to hide it, blood”
“I know. I’m sorry. You ain’t eaten in a week and here I am holding a candy bar under your nose”
“Don’t worry about it. Man, eat the candy bar. It’s cool. I ain’t gonna hold it against you”
“You sure?
“Go ahead…eat it”
I took the candy bar, bit into it. The little animal cracker in me felt good.
“It’s a good candy bar, huh, blood? Equipto said.
“Yeah” I replied with my mouth half full.
“Packed with peanuts, huh?
“Yeah, like the commercial”
I chewed that candy bar like it was something out of the house of prime rib. I looked into the glass at the reflection. Equipto was gone. I looked into my own face.
“Packed with motherfuckin’ peanuts” I thought to myself. I walked down the street. The hunger strike continued.

© 2016 Tony Robles

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