Tony Press

Tony Press tries to pay attention and sometimes he does. He enjoys reading and writing, whether poetry or fiction, and has had both published in many fine places. He’d be thrilled if you purchased his 2016 story collection, Crossing the Lines (Big Table). It’s available via independent bookstores, directly from him, or even from that Amazon place. He lives near the San Francisco Bay and has two Pushcart nominations, yet not one website.

Poems on Belonging

ON MORI POINT

Surfboards on a fence
the sea is calm today
and thus, so are we

We sit, backs cradled by the bench
and talk of tonight, and tomorrow,
but not of yesterday

We are not ready
to speak of yesterday

Copyright © by Tony Press. This poem originally appeared in Trailer Park Quarterly. Used with permission of the author.

NOT FAR AT ALL

In my little town it is only just
around the corner
from the teen club on San Bruno
to the senior center on Visitación.

Copyright © by Tony Press. This poem originally appeared in One Sentence Poems. Used with permission of the author.

COLMA WALK

We walked by the graveyard today
Father’s Day
And saw a group of five, sitting on the grass,
On blankets, and wrapped, too, in blankets, this breezy Sunday.
Each person sitting within three or four yards of the same tombstone

We continued walking
Father’s Day
The five appeared, though we could not say for certain
Appeared to be a family
Perhaps a mother and four children, two of them in their twenties,
Two younger

But perhaps not, perhaps a mother-grandmother, her child, her child’s spouse
And two children.
Or not, to be sure, for it could have been five friends, companions, aunts, uncles
We had no way to know, and no need
This Father’s Day

We walked on, reached the corner, debated quickly:
“Shall we do the whole path, or just go back toward the mountain?”
We chose the shorter way, turned around, and began the uphill route.
Except for the group of five, we had seen exactly two people, both groundskeepers,
(one raking, one driving a green cart), those two, plus six squirrels
Six squirrels and two large crows

Approaching the group, we saw them now standing, circling the grave
Standing and holding hands.
We could not yet hear, but wondered if they were praying, as we could
See lips moving, bodies swaying.
We kept walking – it’s what we do.

Closer still, we realized they were singing, singing quite well, in fact,
Without a boombox or any musical instrument, just their voices
Carrying down the slope toward our waiting ears
At first, we both thought we recognized the song, and whispered the title
To each other – the same title – but almost as quickly knew we were wrong

We did not know this song, our hearts told us, but we wanted to, so we sat,
Sat on a bench a mere twenty yards from the singers.
If they noticed us, they made no sign. They sang.
They sang, we listened. They sang, we marveled, and we wondered.
They sang, we listened, we held hands – held hands before we knew we were holding hands.

We had come to the cemetery to walk, to talk a little, to be by each other’s side
We had come this Father’s Day to remember our fathers.
We had come to this place
This place neither city nor country,
This place for the living
This place for the dead
This place like no other place,
This place no different from any other place.
All places the same place.

This place.
This Father’s Day.
This group singing this song
A song we did not know
Yet would never forget

A song we did not know
Yet would never forget

Copyright © by Tony Press. This poem originally appeared in Digging Through the Fat. Used with permission of the author.

Find Tony’s book in the library!

Crossing the Lines (2016)

Civic Engagement

Tony was part of Immigrants Rising’s Educator Action Group from 2010 to 2012, and has edited numerous publications, served as a mentor to students, and been a supporter ever since.