Margot Pepper


Margot Pepper is a bilingual educator, novelist, and poet. She was born in 1962 in Mexico City, where her American parents had found refuge after her father, Hollywood movie producer George Pepper, was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for his radical political views. After her father passed away when Pepper was just seven years old, she lived for a year in the Hollywood home of another blacklisted talent, famed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Growing up and attending school in Los Angeles, Pepper faced bullying from other students about her childhood in Mexico. Seeking an escape from their cruelty and refuge from the abuse of her new stepfather, she soaked up the excitement of the Santa Monica and Venice beach scenes. In 1980, she even won the Morey Boogie Board Surfing trophy by standing on her head while catching a wave. After graduating from Palisades High, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in literature and writing with a minor in Spanish from the University of California at San Diego. She went on to complete her Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing at San Francisco State University, and she is a certified bilingual educator in English and Spanish. In addition to countless articles, translations, and spoken word performances, Pepper has published three books with San Francisco’s Freedom Voices press. She shared her poetry and short fiction in the 1992 collection, At This Very Moment. In 2005, she remembered her experiences as a foreign correspondent in post-Cold War Cuba in Through the Wall: A Year in Havana. The historical and personal memoir became a finalist for the 2006 American Book Award. In 2015 she released her latest book, the techno-dystopian thriller American Day Dream. She has been an educator for more than two decades, and is a professional poet with the longtime California Poets In the Schools initiative. She is currently at work developing her latest book, a collection of magical realism short stories. Pepper resides with her family in the California Bay Area. 

At This Very Moment

At this very moment

as anti-Marxists

and anti-anarchists

and anti-revolutionary liberals

debate what's the matter with the places

they've never been to,

a very tall man

a very gaunt man

a very weary man

with greasy hair

and dirty hands

and a pressed cotton shirt

that is as clean

as it could be

has borrowed the ashtray

from my table,

returned it empty

and is proceeding to smoke

the butts.


He has straightened all the chairs,

bussed all the tables,

hoping to find

a scrap of dignity.

Now he's settled down to eat

a bowl of chowder

he believes the manager

has given him in payment.

He runs the clean white napkin

over his neck and face,

twice quickly in his ears

and over the seat of his chair.


A human being

approaching some stale clam chowder

with the reverence

of one kneeling at an altar;

A human being

sipping some lousy clam chowder

with the tenderness of a lover

in the belly of

the world's most envied abundance.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Poems of the Everyday


Literary Devices:

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)