On a sunny winter afternoon in 1970 I grabbed a borrowed Minolta and a few rolls of Ektachrome and headed down to the Farmers Market on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood. My lens was captivated by stacks of fresh grapefruit, hoards of sweet potatoes looking like stampeding boars, bins of oolong tea and other arrayed and assembled produce and products. At the end of an energizing shoot, and with my delightful young girlfriend Debbie at my side, I took a curious parting shot. What caught my eye were simple, standard salt and pepper shakers sitting on an otherwise empty tabletop in the late afternoon sun. What captured my imagination at the time I cannot really say, but upon later viewing, that slide has always reminded us of a little old couple out for a stroll. As a very young couple we could only view Salt & Pepper with wistful admiration and hope that our love would eventually take us to that same warm and wonderful spot on life’s path.
So it was, on the occasion of our twentieth wedding anniversary, that I presented Debbie with a copy of Salt & Pepper, the photo, and with one of my early poems that has now become the title poem of this collection. I am aware that the poem’s meaning might otherwise be difficult to discern without such an explanation. I hope that the rest of the poems in this collection are somewhat more accessible. As a rule they are inspired by experience rather than a single visual image.
This collection — this indulgence — is a fiftieth birthday present to myself. It also marks my official coming out as a poet, something I only truly discovered of myself this year. Having written a few hundred poems, mostly in this decade, it finally dawned on me that poetry was an important part of my life that I needed to acknowledge and develop. This discovery in itself has been transforming and uplifting. I have come to appreciate that part of me which is willing to stop and become aware of previously unrealized and unexpressed thoughts and emotions. It has been especially gratifying to learn that some of my words reach others in meaningful ways as well.