“No Elegy for Jasper,” “A Day at the Wharf” and “The Giraffe Mural on Harrison St.”

“No Elegy for Jasper,” “A Day at the Wharf” and “The Giraffe Mural on Harrison St.”
Image by Cafe Racer on Shutterstock

No Elegy for Jasper

There will be no words,

no tributes, sonnets or verses of consolation,

borrowed from the great poets or philosophers

for an angel called up too soon.

Only the cries of infinite mourning rambles will reach the heavens.

There are no words,

no comprehension, no rationale, and no acceptance,

for a not quite two years old, randomly gunned down,

caught in cross-fire while napping in his car seat on I-880,

on an ordinary Saturday afternoon. An adorable laughing sprite.

Was he on his way to Target, or Fairyland, or just headed home?

He had worn a Superman outfit for Halloween.

If only his mother had been in a different lane,

would the angel of death still have found him?

Who knows whom he could have been, what he might have given

to our fractured world, whom he would have loved...?

There are no words,

when a little coffin is lowered into unrepentant earth.

Yes, a go fund me set up, empty pleas for more gun control, police presence,

cameras on freeways, ten thousand dollars offered for information............

as if...as if.

There are no words.

There never will be words for Jasper,

only raging rivers of inconsolable


A Day at the Wharf

The sea lions at Pier 39, raucous, splashing, lumber on and off wooden platforms.

Their irreverent show provides cheap entertainment for tourists who watch

while enjoying their crab cocktails, hunks of sourdough, Ghirardelli chocolate.

I always stop to see them when I am in San Francisco.

Their smell, stinky and particular, suffuses me with memories

of another August day, I can never forget.

We had just come from the breast cancer center, where my young balding oncologist

had rather nonchalantly told me and my husband the results of my PET scan,

after a tearful weekend of not sleeping or eating,

clinging to each other like we were drowning.

My breast cancer had thankfully, blessedly not spread.

I felt like I had won the lottery. We couldn’t go home,

headed to the wharf with our worst fears behind us for a few minutes,

though I really didn’t know what was still ahead,

months of chemo and radiation.

In warm sun, the frisky sea lions performed

playful as if heralding my good news, jumping out of the water

with their irreverent barking and slapstick antics.

Then we stopped to listen to a street musician performing my favorite Motown.

I danced to a Temptations song like a teenager

not caring how I looked to passersby, a sixtyish woman dancing solo.

I was given hope that summer’s day by that young doctor, a battle plan.

I could climb down from that precipice where I had been hovering for days.

Even now, eight years later, the sea lions take me back,

reminding me how fragile life is,

reminding me that a 3-millimeter lump turned my world on its head,

reminding me to never forget that every day is a gift.

The Giraffe Mural on Harrison St.

from the freeway underpass on Harrison

a solitary giraffe watches...

mottled cream and brown

elegant, noble, imperious

a homeless enclave sprawls unchecked

at its feet,

clutter of shopping carts, scattered clothing

a few coveted possessions, mounds of refuse

a haphazard village of last resort

ragged tents strewn across a sorry landscape

of sorrows and broken dreams,

souls discarded like so much flotsam and jetsam

drifting in a sea of have nots and never will

the giraffe would surely look away if it could

like the rest of us who pass by everyday

shake our heads and pretend we don’t see

instead it weeps

About the Author

Joanne Jagoda

Joanne Jagoda is a longtime resident of the Oakland hills. After retiring in 2009, one inspiring workshop, Lakeshore Writers, launched Joanne on an unexpected writing trajectory. Her short stories, poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared on-line and in numerous print anthologies including, The Write Launch, Burningword Literary Journal, Third Harvest, Snapdragon, A Journal of Art and Healing, Quillkeepers Press, The Awakenings Review, The Deronda Review, Dreamers Magazine, Passager, Better After 50, and Still You, Poems of Illness and Healing. Joanne has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and has won a number of contests including first place in the 2022 Gemini Open contest. She continues taking Bay Area writing workshops enjoys Zumba on-zoom, and spoiling her seven grandchildren who call her Savta. Joanne’s first book of poetry My Runaway Hourglass, conceived while she was home sheltering-in-place, was published in summer of 2020 (Poetica Publications).

Read more work by Joanne Jagoda.