Two years ago, my dear friend and mentor, Eddie Basha, died just before national poetry month. I couldn’t finish this at the time but wanted to honor him. He was an Arizona Icon and a brilliant business man with a heart bigger than his head. He had a generosity of spirit and a flare for practical jokes like no one I’ll ever know. He ran for Governor once but lost because although he was a great leader, he was a poor politician. His grocery chain, Bashas, is dispersed widely across our state and is a hub in many of our rural communities. He spent many years on the Board of Regents, a warrior for education for all. I remain deeply saddened by his departure yet in his leaving, he has caused me and others to examine our words and deeds through the filter of fairness and kindness. I wrote this from my own observations and also from some of the lovely tributes paid to him in the days following his death.
Ode to My Grocer
I voted for you in ’94
because you seemed kind and fair
And you spoke boldly of causes you believed in
though it cost you the election.
It was only fitting that on the day you passed
the Supreme Court debated the same damned thing.
You challenged higher education to have student bodies
mirroring the state in which they sit.
Because, you said, it was fair.
It was also kind.
Regent, it’s amazing that in the year you passed,
they did – for the very first time.
When you called, you said
you were someone you weren’t;
a woman, a reporter, a dignitary
always with a problem
and always ending in laughter
but I never caught on
until caller i.d.
A friendship created
on common stuff like
fighting for the corner store
and the humanities
and rural communities
Oh the stories being told
of the laughs and the pranks and the passion
and the generosity of your ways.
By those who are thankful for your mentorship
and friends who have been the brunt of your
And now I stand here
in aisle 8 staring at the emptiness
between dried pintos and El Pato spicy sauce in a can.
Heart and grocery bag have grown heavier
but my will is stronger
Knowing that you have left us
that which is fair