Shrimp and Grits

The shrimp and grits
were good, they went
down nice and easy
the way they should

Some cheese
some cut tomatoes
and those shrimps
posing front and

shrimp and grits
as good as it gets,
just saying it is like
dropping a net into
the afterworld where
nothing is over or

This soul food restaurant
doin’ up some shrimp
and grits in SF

Mirrors on the wall
vacant of face, absent
of figures in the overall
occupation of seats

But tell me,
where are the soul
people at?

There ain’t no
soul people to go
with these shrimp
and grits

the soul people
ain’t here and
there ain’t no
substitute for pepper

Tell me, how does
one serve up shrimp
and grits without
soul people?

I shake some pepper
on my grits and wait
for the answer

(c) 2017 Tony Robles


In the Rain

4 black sisters
on the corner, just
coming out of the
Chinese Restaurant
in the lunch hour

wearing sandals, hair
glimmering in any
kind of weather

they speak about
their boss

“Girl, his breff stink
and he don’t take
a shower”

And the black sisters
laughed while waiting
for the light to turn green

and another sister
said, girl, that rain
was comin’ down
last week

and the other sister
said, yeah, that rain
was good for my garden

and the light
faded to green

I’m through with
the rain, said the
sister with the scarf
that had to be silk

Yeah, said another
sister, But the rain
ain’t through with

And I walked
across the street
with the 4 black
sisters while the
light was green

and everything
else faded to black

(c) 2017 Tony Robles

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