In a Box, Hidden from My View, Lies a Record

People, slain,
History books, vanished
Pictures, stolen
Mi abuelito’s pictures.

Flowers, fettered
Names, redacted
Bullet with my name on it.
Warrant for my citizenship, overdue.

Every day, sirens
Us, bleeding,
Suffocating, silenced.
Never, White.

Us, “want rest,”
Trump, “Law and order.”
Sun, sets,
We pray.

Borders, bellies
Jailed, rapists.
America, bloodthirsty,
Me, ashamed.

Mothers, baby boys,
Mijas, todos
Endless, Wings,
Fluttering, into dirt.

Run, hide,
Try, might,
But, surprise.
Bullet with my face on it.

God, bless.
Bless, “hypocrites.”
Teacher, “SUCK IT UP.”

But me,



Next Stop: Los Angeles

I can see myself getting closer and closer to my love, but it is not quite all a road of roses. There are moments in each day that I find myself taking more distance from many of the people who I once thought could understand this love, but now I understand that we just see it on different terms. Such a difference is nevertheless a matter of arriving. I am nearing my destination, which naturally means the distance is closing from the object of my journey at the same time that it’s growing from where and with whom I began.

This is a tragic love affair; the affinity I feel for the movement of Los Angeles is endless; I can only try to explain.

I love the bus in Los Angeles, but it’s part of a triangle, because there are days when I love the rail lines even more. They are far from world class services, and they will probably always be doomed to mediocrity, but it doesn’t matter to me. They are the first buses and rail lines I ever rode and for that I am a lifetime subscriber.

On the bus when seating is available I dash at the opportunity to sit at the best seat; that is, the one where I can see the city from the most points of view. If such seating isn’t available, however, then I just don’t sit. And there are moments when even if I’ve got the best seat, if there’s a Señorita or their toddler who could use the seat better, I take pride in handing it off to them.

I couldn’t lose even if I wanted to; it happens that I also love standing on the bus as if it were a giant board surfing through L.A.’s crumbling concrete, which also makes for a great view.

Los Angeles; Metro 04 bus heading East to DTLA

On the rail lines the seats are more critical. To some degree it depends on which line I’m on and how far I’m going that determines whether or not the seat is especially important, but even then I love standing on the rail lines, too; my feet synchronize with the swaying of the car and the line altogether. We do not fear the trafficked roads of the city. We are the bullets daring enough to make our own riveting course through the city.

And we see more of the city than the other way around.

But then, the sidewalks are the best. I’m entranced with walking through L.A.’s neglected sidewalks. I bask in standing at their corners, where I can confront the city’s movement more blithely, and I take pride in being the first to set foot on the crosswalks when the lights finally permit.

And while I am not a religious Angeleno, when I walk towards or walk past the paletero man or the little ladies with the tamales on the sidewalks I privately worship them. We don’t have to say anything to each other, I just know immediately that they came from far away places to bless me with their food and their snacks and the sweetness with which they prepare and provide these things not just to myself but also the rest of the pueblo. I am selfish, however. I’ve got to let them know I appreciate them the most and that I won’t ever stop doing so and that if there was more I could do then of course, por supuesto.

I could never care for Jacob or Matthew or James, but I could care far too quickly for Don Jose and Doña Maria and their mija la Vanessa y el hermanito el Carlitos. They are the reasons Los Angeles is not a concrete jungle; in the jungle the birds have to hunt their prey and be hunted. In Los Angeles the pajaritos simply stand with dignity before their carts and practically give the food away.

What did I do to deserve this?

God bless America for Los Angeles, y que la Santa María bendiga a México y España anterior por El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula. And may every God worshiped by every indigenous people in Los Angeles before any state claimed it bless those people still.

In each period, those who came before me just kept Los Angeles warm for me. I know this in my heart. I do not always like knowing it, and there are days when I choose to reject it. But the truth is there is no magic nor reel nor any image like the one that floats through my eyes when I take my time through Los Angeles.

It reverberates in my veins, and in each new step I take through it there is somehow more life than in the last. I don’t know quite how this is supposed to work, or just where it ends. In any case it’s too late to look back now.

We are getting closer Los Angeles.


Homelessness in Los Angeles Today is the Result of Decades of American Discrimination

In Los Angeles lives the type of progress towards social issues much like what the rest of the country faces, where the wealth of executives at the city’s largest institutions sits unthreatened while masses of low wage workers beneath struggle to make it to the next paycheck. These economics are accepted as irrevocable facts, natural and indefinite as the geography of Los Angeles, rather than as circumstances of human decision-making which have been reinforced over the course of time.

The same principles apply to the treatment of those who’ve exited the workforce or who’ve declined or been prevented from entering it to begin with, such as the so-called “homeless” of L.A. This is a population made up of veterans, LGBTQ youth, formerly incarcerated, and swaths of others who’ve been historically neglected by Uncle Sam and U.S. populations.

Recently, the L.A. Times has taken up a new series regarding the issue, and while it is a step in the right direction, editorials like these still need to work on their context.

Take for example the Times’s neglect to mention the legacy of homeowners’ and Neighborhood Councils’ historic anti-Blackness. This is not just a documented phenomenon in Los Angeles, but throughout major cities in the U.S. It is relevant because to discuss “homelessness” without its racial component and documented antecedents would be like discussing crime in America without discussing who is criminalized in America and why.

Remember Ta-Nehisis’s piece on Redlining districts in Chicago, for example, or Isabel Wilkerson’s coverage of race rioting through Harlem, New York in The Warmth of Other Suns. Mike Davis has also discussed anti-Black fervor in Southern California in City of Quartz.

For the skimmers, just know that in the fifties white and white immigrant homeowners firebombed Black families when they moved into their neighborhoods, while in our cities they pelted them with rocks and beat them to a pulp largely without any legal repercussions. Once these actions no longer worked to keep the influx of Blacks fleeing Jim Crow in the U.S. South, whites either up and left north or further into the U.S. inland to maintain the dividing lines.

White flight, as it’s called, didn’t have to be catastrophic in and of itself, but the phenomenon largely left Black families and neighborhoods to desolation since so many of the small businesses and government jobs that were once there left with whites, too.

Lo and behold, then, that over half a century later in our major cities so many descendants of yesterday’s dividing lines happen to be homeless and predominantly Black, the likes of whom today’s homeowners and Neighborhood Councils (as opposed to Covenants and Associations), resent and resist. This is not a coincidence. But it is historic.

One might say it’s history repeating itself, albeit on upgraded terms. Blacks fleeing Jim Crow in the U.S. south during the 20th century is significantly different from Black veterans and formerly incarcerated Blacks or Black LGBTQ in the 21st century needing basic shelter and the means by which to support themselves. But these events are not disconnected.

If the L.A. Times is serious about garnering attention for “homelessness”, then, it will do well to make sure its reporting accounts for the circumstances across American history which have led to this issue’s proliferation.

We can do this, Los Angeles