Christine Penko

Pale Fiesta

Santa Barbara, California: At the 2010 6th grade graduation,
no one bothered to greet the many Spanish speaking parents.
No awards were given to their children.

In 2020 we must ask—what’s next?

Our parks scrubbed clean of piñatas?

No mamacitas o papacitas, abuelitos o abuelitas
offering pans of warm tamales at fundraisers &
at school graduations standing silent, proud.

Who will make the confetti fiesta eggs 
our kids crack over their heads 
while the wealthy & white—ersatz conquistadors
prance in on their fancy horses. Who will cheer them on?

Gone the gardeners, housekeepers, nannies— 
the strong backs, nursing home aides, cooks, busboys.

       The serape of history
                                             to unravel

trash piles up
manicured gardens    give way.

Even show horses stand    knee-deep    in their own muck.
     Vineyards wither,  potholes bloom.

Street signs vanish—
Canon Perdido, Camarillo,  Sola, Quarantina. . .                          

Looking up from our phones
mouths agape—we are lost. 

After the Edson Smith Photo Collection Fiesta

Christine Penko is the author of Thunderbirds, a memoir in poetry, published in 2015. Her work can also be found in journals and anthologies under the name Christine Kravetz. Recent publications include Prairie Schooner and Miramar. She taught poetry in Santa Barbara schools, and was the administrator for California Poets in the Schools in Santa Barbara County.