The Big Earthquake

When the big one
Comes, don’t come
To me

I’ve been shaken
Rattled and rolled
And my fine china is
Chipped and on display
With the bones of
Excavated dreams that
Knew nothing but thirst

When the big one comes
Don’t come to me for a
Cup of water, I’m tapped
Out since they tapped my
Cane to the tune of taps
When I was shown the door

When the big one hits
Don’t come to me with a
Golden Gate smile that
Never connected us

When the big one
Hits, don’t come
To me like you came

You came and tore the
Carpet from my floor, the
Fixtures, the baseboards
And windows in a hiss of
Cracks and fissures

And you kept coming
And coming and I said,
Don’t come, you’ve taken
It all

And you came again and
Again and kept coming,
You couldn’t come enough
Until every lock, every bone
Was picked

When the big one
Comes, don’t come
To me

There’s no more
Me to come to

When the big one comes
That someone comes

Maybe it’ll
Be me

© 2017 Tony Robles


Filipino Walk

A friend said, they’re
Gonna know you
Ain’t from there by
The way you walk

I hadn’t yet felt
The Philippine
Ground on my feet

I thought about how
It was going to

Would it be different
Than the ground in
SF, Daly City or Topeka,

How would my soles
Size up among the
Souls I was destined
To see or not see?

Walking in Manila
I am self-conscious

I watch the
Way people

I wear tsinelas
But my cadence
Lacks patience
And grace

An idea: I’ll pretend
I’m bowlegged

I curl my toes, pressing
Them into my sandals
But I end up twisting
My ankle

A kid on
The street looks
At me with sad

My friend, learning
Of my dilemma says,
You’re walking like
You have a lumpia
Rammed up your ass

Thanks, I say, but
I’d rather eat the

I continue walking,
Trying to find my

(C) 2017 Tony Robles

St. Francis Theater

the floor was sticky in
the theater and the seats
held the sweet humidity of
memory in the cushions as
we spilled soda pop, popcorn
and candy wrappers onto the
waiting spaces dipped in shadows
as we hid from the world waiting for
the feature to begin

Grandma described it as
elegant, remembering a time
when you dressed up to go

By the time i came around
downtown was dressed down,
shoeless, shirtless, moneyless
minuses all adding up to the
price of admission with clogged
Toilets, exits and no way out

i didn’t know that the remnants
on those brick walls, those ads
from decades gone by, fading
into the mortar was the montage
of a main attraction, a mortgage
of memory that could not be recalled
nor repaid

and one by one
those movie theaters
shut down
replaced by coffee shops
fitness centers and other

yet, the St. Francis on
Market Street seemed
to survive both good
movies and bad, stale
popcorn and pockmarks
left by cigarette burns

and i’d sit on those
mildew festering seats
and i’d escape

“Enter the Dragon, Kung
Fu Mama, The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, Good
Guys Wear Black
The Big Brawl etc etc”

and there was a uniformed
guard who patrolled the aisles,
night stick at side and rings
on every finger

He tap that night stick
on your feet if they
were propped up on
the back of a chair

i can still hear
the tapping as
well as remember
his smile

And now i
walk down
Market Street

The St. Francis is
gone, cleared away
and barricaded by
yellow tape

i look at
that empty

where a large
part of my youth
was spent on hot
dogs, popcorn and

The. St. Francis
is gone

Some intermissions
are permanent

(c) 2017 Tony Robles