What’s Home Like?

by Anthony Ornelaz

It’s all here,
In tendrils of wrathful grapes.

Steinbeck witnessed while Chavez rioted
Dust-devils swirling, swirling, swirling, gone.

Underneath a dusty plate, in the glance of a slant-eyed cat, and the wrinkles of an Oldman
Beauty accumulates.

I learned my ABC’s here
Watched a man get runover on 46 too.

I can still feel the foggy morning breath of alfalfa fields,
And the Indian mud beneath my worn brown feet. 

A place with tilled soil and readied seed.
It’s where Frank met Helen and planted themselves.

They walked on earth and now live in me—
Two stalks of corn touching in the arid wind.

Just like grandpa, just a like a farmer
I pluck a light-skinned wheat straw, placing it between cracked lips.

So much grows here, 
but no one knows

The county of Kern,
Where a flat, camel-colored ground met a drought-ridden sky.

Workers with picking quotas
Families deciding food or light.

Where trains howl nightly—
They rumble over weeds and moonlit strawberries.

back to University & College Poetry Prizes