Tram’s Jumbled Kitchen by Sabio Lantz

Tram’s Kitchen is a grimy gem
in a poor part of Pittsburgh,
where a Children’s hospital
was built on cheap land
and now uses cheap help.
And where its physicians train
to pay back loans.

Tram, a Chinese woman’s name,
was nowhere to be seen.
Instead we were served by men
in disheveled clothes and dirty hands
who we hoped had not touched
our delicious safely boiled Pho noodles.

Patchwork religions sloppily covered the walls:
a wilted picture of a white Jesus;
a cross hanging from a stained calendar;
and cheaply framed Buddhist picture
of Chinese guardian lions.

A hodgepodge: like Tram’s Pho soup
and her religion,
the Vietnamese language
is a mix of Austroasiatic,
Chinese, French, and bastardized English.

One of the servers, I imagine,
was probably Tram’s father.
He was missing his left arm
probably due to VietCong shrapnel.
A complicated consequence
of Vietnam’s jumbled history.

After decades in the USA,
The father was still barely able
to speak passable English.
But why should he or Tram care?
For Tram’s hole-in-the-wall Kitchen
is rightfully rated one of the best in Pittsburgh.


Prompt: For Open Mike Night at d’Verse Poets. The real prompt was the coincidental reading of Ted Kooser’s poem about a Vietnamese cafe and my visit the night before to a local Vietnamese restaurant.  Ted Kooser has written, “I favor poems that keep the obstacles between you and [the reader] to a minimum.” I favor the same sort, as you can see by my vignette above.

In January  by Ted Kooser

Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.

If Even for a Moment

If Even for a Moment

I don’t believe we are puppets –
dangled by the whims of some god
or some spirit or the Universe.
I don’t believe that anything is “meant to be”.
But I certainly do believe
with vehement inconsistency
that many things are *not* meant to be!
And when we can redeem those injustices,
the world makes more sense –
if even for a moment.

by Sabio Lantz, February 2017


Prompt: Open Mike Night at D’Verse Poets Pub

I’ve just read the below poem by Kirsten Dierking and it stirred me to think of my lover. And as the mind does, those metathoughts/feels then bubbled into three poetic expressions: one in the above poem, one expressed in the following short aphorism, and one by my poem (A New Nest) in my previous post.

My love for you is not borne from thinking of you as perfect,
but I nurture a perfect vision of you because of my love. — Sabio

So thank to Kirsten for the inspiration!

Lucky  — by Kirsten Dierking

All this time,
the life you were
supposed to live
has been rising around you
like the walls of a house
designed with warm
harmonious lines.
As if you had actually
planned it that way.
As if you had
stacked up bricks
at random,
and built by mistake
a lucky star.


A New Nest

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.
G.K. Chesterton  (1874-1936, writer)

A New Nest

Your unwanted laughter has become my joy
Your unvalued chattiness has become my smile
Your unappreciated brilliance has become my fortune.

Odd, how what others toss away,
can so easily become a welcomed warm nest
for the thankful.

— by Sabio Lantz, February 2016



My father caught the plastics wave,
when synthetics were a cool science
and well before they filled the Pacific.

He hired poor East Cleveland locals
each quickly learning the factory skills
and soon becoming a troop of craftsmen.

Leroy perfected furnace times,
and placed the racks with exact care
leaving a smooth finish on each hanging tool.

Jackson could measure coating thicknesses
with his fingers better than a micrometer,
tossing rejects to assure high quality.

John knew how to keep feeders open
and thus consistent extrusions
for excellent medical tubing.

Charlie mixed plastisol
with colors to envy Da Vinci
and texture to shame greek statues.

My father is gone now,
the factory is a toxic site,
but I will never forget those men who raised me.

— by Sabio Lantz, Jan 2017


Prompt:  Kim, at d’Verse Poets, challenge us to “write a poem about an artisan or wright, for example a weaver, thatcher, wheelwright or carpenter, or any other craftsman you can think of.”  Kim offered us two Seamus Heaney poems about craftsman to inspire.  One of Heaney’s poems begins: “My father worked with a horse-plough,…”.

My dear love’s mother passed this last weekend (and therefore I wrote this poem), and the grieving has me thinking thankfully of my deceased parents too. Thus these waves of influence brought forth this poem tonight.

B. Burgdorferi

burgdorferiB. Burgdorferi

You are no girl
but with that curl
you surpass many a hurdle.

Dorfi my dear
you are quite queer
and your name instills us with fear.

You are a cheat
my spirochete
hitching a ride on small deer feet.

Rhyme befits you Lyme.

— by Sabio Lantz, January 2016


Prompt: Mr. Rudberg, at d’Verse Poets, challenges us to write a poem with exactly 42 words (a Quadrille) which includes the word “curl”. I added further rhyme and syllable constraints to this biology poem and a banal playful tone inspired by Longfellow’s poem “There was a little girl”. For those who don’t understand the poem, click here for a clue.

Mom is Moving Out

Mom is Moving Out

Mom loves geology and still shares stories,
but her rock collection is missing
with only a bare spot remaining
on her dusty table.

Bright squares of wall paper
shine on her faded walls where pictures once hung.
And even though she usually forgets,
occasionally she smiles at their mention.

Mom is more than her losses.
Hell, she lost her hearing at 50
but her laughter is still a song
which resonates on her now, unused piano.

Mom is happily moving out.
Her CAT scan today made that clear:
with brain atrophy and old infarcts
and today’s hematoma just taking a bit more.

Mom has been ready to move out for a few years now.
We are more sad than she,
But we have all left things behind
still happy for the times we have had.

— Sabio Lantz, December 2016


Prompt:  For Open-Mike on D’Verse Poets Pub.  Today or tomorrow, my sweetheart’s mother will be peacefully passing.  I wrote this poem about three weeks ago when the signs were clear.  My dearest is with her fine mother just now, in another city – so I post this loving thoughts of them both.



A song starts as wind
a shiver in the soul,
until our fingers move
or our voices shake
and our ears delight.

Yet that same wind
can flare into rays of light
teasing our spirits
to paint patterns
that dance on canvas.

— by Sabio Lantz 12/2016


Prompt: Victoria, at D’Verse Poets Pub, asks us to write a poem that incorporates elements of music. My sixteen-year-old son had an art assignment where he was to take another student’s art and transform it into his own art. His fellow student did a song which my son ran through a computer program to generate this video. The still picture here is a snapshot of that video.