Eye of the Storm, Pescadero Coast, 1972



The same shirt pulled over the same head

not once but again and again, a eucalyptus turned

inside out. Brutal, foam-white,


the sea tore at its rocky coast. Route One was

forsaken. The big house was unlit, the plowed yard

a pool of rain. A cloud ceiling


pressed yet lower. Along worn cliffs

in the farm workers’ small-windowed shacks, stoves

burned into the dark of the day.


It was Sunday, but only the storm made it

Sabbath. In flooded fields, unharvested

Brussels sprouts clung to their stalks.










Note:   In a winter of record rainstorms in Northern California, Cesar Chavez undertook a 24 day fast in support of United Farm Workers’ boycotts. The poem also honors an earlier farm workers’ union, the Federated Agricultural Laborers Association. In 1939, Filipino labor leaders, Francisco Varona, Macario Bautista, and Lamberto Malina,, led the first successful strike in Northern California’s coastal fields of celery, garlic, and Brussels sprouts.