Lee Herrick


Born in Daejeon, South Korea and adopted at 10 months old, Lee Herrick grew up in California. He is the author of the poetry collections Scar and Flower (2018), Gardening Secrets of the Dead (2012), and This Many Miles from Desire (2007). His poems have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies, including The Bloomsbury Review, ZYZZYVA, Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley (2nd edition), One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form, and Indivisible: Poems of Social Justice, among others. He is coeditor, with Leah Silvieus, of The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (2020). From 2015 to 2017, Herrick served as poet laureate of Fresno, California. Herrick lives in Fresno and teaches at Fresno City College and in the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. Source 

My California

Here, an olive votive keeps the sunset lit,

the Korean twenty-somethings talk about hyphens,


graduate school and good pot. A group of four at a window

table in Carpinteria discuss the quality of wines in Napa Valley versus Lodi.


Here, in my California, the streets remember the Chicano

poet whose songs still bank off Fresno's beer soaked gutters


and almond trees in partial blossom. Here, in my California

we fish out long noodles from the pho with such accuracy


you'd know we'd done this before. In Fresno, the bullets

tire of themselves and begin to pray five times a day.


In Fresno, we hope for less of the police state and more of a state of grace.

In my California, you can watch the sun go down


like in your California, on the ledge of the pregnant

twenty-second century, the one with a bounty of peaches and grapes,


red onions and the good salsa, wine and chapchae.

Here, in my California, paperbacks are free,


farmer's markets are twenty four hours a day and

always packed, the trees and water have no nails in them,


the priests eat well, the homeless eat well.

Here, in my California, everywhere is Chinatown,


everywhere is K-Town, everywhere is Armeniatown,

everywhere a Little Italy. Less confederacy.


No internment in the Valley.

Better history texts for the juniors.


In my California, free sounds and free touch.

      Free questions, free answers.

Free songs from parents and poets, those hopeful bodies of light.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times