Waiting Again, Los Angeles

We wait and we wait and we wait. Patiently. Lovingly. Anguished.

We wait for our schools to be safe,

For our streets to be cleaned,
For our vecindades to have jobs,
And for our kids to walk through these spaces without being criminalized.

We wait for our neighbors to stop leering at us,

For their dogs to stop barking at us,
For them to stop calling the police on our tios,
And for them to stop acting as if we entered their havens.

We wait for our landlords to answer our calls,

For our faucets to have clean water,
For our rent to be stabilized,
And for our roofs to stop caving in on us every time it rains.

We wait for our clinics to admit us without discriminating us,

For our doctors to work with us instead of just getting rid of us,
For our ‘coverage’ to stay put without our having to reapply,
And for healthcare that isn’t based on our (in)ability to pay.

We wait for our jobs to pay livable wages,

For our coworkers to stop bullying us,
For our interviewers to stop merely using our names,
And to work for our communities rather than just for the owners in our communities.

We also wait for these billionaires to stop bloating our veins,

For our ‘checks and balances’ to check and balance the ‘foundations’,
For our greatest pollutants, the GMs and the Exxon Mobiles, to be reined in,
And we for ‘officials’ who don’t call for these things only when it’s election season.

Finally, we wait for the courts to stop feeding on our vulnerability as these other waits manifest,

For any assistance in our resistance through these struggles to view us as partners rather than helpless,

For another way of life to finally arrive,

And for it to get here before it’s too late for another one of our babies.

We wait patiently. Lovingly. Anguished.

But the past has yet to die.

When is it time, Los Angeles.


Poem in Hand, I Would Like to Welcome You With the Following

I experienced discrimination at my schools before I experienced poetry at them. But the first time I was discriminated against based on the color of my skin, the language I spoke at home, or some other characterization of me, I didn’t quite know the definition of the word discrimination. Similarly, the first time I heard my first poem, I didn’t quite know that it was poetry, either. Yet in each case my feelings told me what these things were. Today they still do.

Now, I deploy the English language to work for me as I’ve worked for it over the course of the years of my education, and as my mother has worn every bone in her body to work all her life: to survive its rancorous tone and the institutions it deploys against us.

My mother’s feet are waning into the ages now, yet with each new day she makes one thing clear:

We will not go gently into the night. Every moment we get, is another moment to rise.