shoreline under blue sky

Eagle Owls

Each of us will watch the world unfurl into the greatest and most arduous of journeys

Facing the heaviest of winds and the steepest of earths

We will do this, and we will be challenged by this

And we will have to learn from this

Even when we feel entirely alone

Alone and away from home
No extra lifeline over-the-phone

Just one heart
And two lungs

Beating over a fractal of tired bones

We will grow tired, and we will grow impatient,

We will grow angry, and we will grow to feel unrecognizable to ourselves

We will be pushed by this journey, cornered and exhausted by its unimaginable lengths

But when we are—-

When we are,

Just remember who you are

And how you are

Remember that you’re formed by the nexus of a community;

That you come from the same earths and the same winds that seem to push you;

Remember that you come from a million stars, and one;

And that you are here to rise, fall, and re-emerge

Only stronger;

Like our bodies in the ocean

Setting free our minds over the crashing, thunderous waves;

This is who you are, and how you are.

J.T.

red roses in bloom

Rehaciendo/ Remaking

Mucho se ha notado del amor
Que es el amor
Y a donde va el amor
Una vez que se ha ido
Si el amor alguna vez se ha ido de verdad.

Pero creo que es eterno
Que todo lo que se pierde
Será encontrado de nuevo
Cómo para cada uno lo suyo
El amor es eterno.

Para que nunca se pierda por completo,
Incluso una vez que refluye
Lento pero seguro,
Como la lluvia se convierte en aguaceros
Que se convierten en cielo nuevamente.

Cielo renovado en medio de luz renacida,
Sobre aire nuevo y resplandeciente,

Para que un nuevo amor vuelva a encontrar
La forma en que el amor es eterno.

/

Much has been made of love,
What love is
And where love goes,
Once love is gone,
If love is ever truly gone.

But I believe that it springs eternal,
That whatever is lost
Will be found again,
How for each their own
Love springs eternal.

So that it may never be fully lost,
Even once it ebbs,
Slowly but surely,
As rain turns to showers that turn into sky again.

Renewed sky amid reborn light,
Over new, resplendent air,
For a new love to find, again,
The way love springs eternal.

J.T.

Kenny Uong: Metro is the way to Go

Traveling in Los Angeles is not a fuss,

if everyone rides Metro Rail or Metro Bus.

Going with a friend, you can’t say no,

Since Metro is the way to go!

The county is connected

via public transportation.

Together, we are one big nation.

When we take transit everywhere,

We feel courageous, like a bear.

It’s always exciting 

to soar over the traffic

that is causing all of the havoc.

Passengers wait for the train to arrive,

after a work day from nine to five.

Surfing the internet or reading a book,

then into the distance, they all look.

For only a dollar seventy-five,

you don’t have to drive.

To request a stop while riding the bus, simply pull the cord.

But for heaven’s sake, please don’t pull it if you are bored!

A public transit enthusiast like me,

would always use transit to get from Point A to Point B.

I definitely feel positive and free,

when I am not the one who’s driving, you see.

From skyline to sea,

or from SFV to SGV,

people all know

that Metro is the way to go!

K.U.

Kenny Uong is an avid transit rider and transit advocate who is currently an Urban Studies and Planning Major at Cal State Northridge. Having grown up in a household that relied on public transit to get around the region and seeing firsthand how unreliable transit service negatively affects riders, he strives to help improve it in the near future. Kenny originally published this poem in 2016.

CirculatinG

While young, we stood tall against each other
Without knowing we were mountains.

Now grown, we stand alone, though
Betraying surfaces like fountains.

Mounting finite time and space,
We turn into the earth again,

The way knowledge turns to wisdom,
Only to become unknown again.

J.T.

This poem is dedicated to every brother, friend and neighbor gone too soon from our communities.

American

American Removal begins with a language.

It starts with Indians as “uncivilized” “savages.”

It expands with Black bodies deemed as “niggers” and “3/5ths.”

It proliferates with “providence” but only for Aryan destiny, “by the millions.”

American Removal embraces its robes with an “Indian Removal Act,”

Followed by a war on “Dirty Mexicans,”

Followed by a “Chinese Exclusion Act,”

Followed by Filipinos as “niggers.”

Then by “Japs Keep Moving.”

American Removal tests its first PSAs with “public enemies,” “hobos, tramps, and vagrants,” but ultimately settles for Black & Brown youth as “gangs.”

It then sows its modern seeds with a “red line.”

Red line maps delineate our colors, separating “undesirables” and “subversive racial elements” from “homogeneous,” “single-family [white] homes.”

Until a war to end all wars. Two atom bombs dropped on “Japs,” but none on German nazis or Italian fascists.

After the war, American Removal includes “Un-American,” “Black radicals,” and “communist hippies” into its lexicon.

Once these ring hollow, it reinvigorates itself: “[Black] drugs and gangs,” “[Black] welfare queens,” [Latinx and Asian] immigrant “invasion,”

Followed by national publication on a generation of new [Black] “super-predators.”

American Removal then sanctifies itself, calling on “[white] property owners” to “revolt.”

Followed by calls to “Save Our State,”

Followed by “English (Only) For Our Children.”

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, American Removal finds yet more life-blood: a global war on Muslims as “terrorists,” “extremists,” and once again “radicals.”

A generation later, American Removal relishes in “good people on both sides,” “shit-hole countries,” and “stand back and stand by.”

But when you ask about a million bodies burned by drones in the Global South since 2001,

Or when you ask about civil uniforms shooting down Black men, women and children,

When you ask about the forced sterilization of incarcerated Latina women in private prisons,

Or when you ask about the gentrification of our neighborhoods, a city’s homeless “clean-ups” as new police patrol new hotels around the corners,

When you ask American Removal if it may dignify these acts with so much as an acknowledgement,

That’s when all you get is silence.

American Removal concludes with a silence.

J.T.

Brothers

Used to be inseparable. Just two kids from two cities along campus ground together.

Used to philosophize and riddle and debate as if no issue in our midst couldn’t diffuse.

Used to reflect on our classes together. Mutual friends. Romances. Foreign policy. No end.

Broke down habits. Responses to each other. Prism of our minds. That’s what homies were.

What being alive was.

Remember our deliberations on these grounds together:

Maximum profit by maximum strain,

Watching it unfurl across the world around us in lanes.

Student debt. Police. Prison policy.

Fast food. Oldies. Air in our pockets.

Worn out rooms another night. But, the unity.

Except never would have expected walls to build around us as they did,

Somewhere along the way the strain got the best of us.

Perhaps the best of me,

Perhaps the best of you.

Now memory flutters wailing past Los Angeles,

Slave patrol still hovering.

People still coughing up on the sidewalk

While still more profits margin.

Turning the corner,

A brother hobbling along the street asks if I know

Where he can find a pookie,

Nah’.”

It’s been ten summers since we first spoke the rage.

Before another ten go by, I hope to find you again

If only to break free from this rift with you.

One between two

J.T.

A fence with barbed wire barricades the site of the former Super Pan Bakery at Virgil avenue and Monroe street

We Raise It: A Poem for Los Youngs During These Times

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 88)

I know. It’s not fair. It’s been more than three months since everything up and changed. And since then, nothing has changed. Everything is still a mess. Home is stressful.

I know. Even if someone says otherwise, still feels like there’s nowhere else to go. Even when we step out, everything is weird. Strangers are stranger. It’s not fun anymore.

I know. The pupuserias are not the same. The panaderias take forever to get into. The burger joints aren’t even there anymore. Pockets don’t have enough to get much anyway.

I know. You didn’t get to say goodbye to your friends. Everyone knew this was the last year you’d get to see each other. Now everyone is fighting. Everyone online is just going at each other.

I know. Summer’s coming up and there’s no pool at the house. No AC. Not enough fans. All the sockets are taken.

I know. Family is stressful. Everyone says the same about how we’ll get through this. Doesn’t feel like we’re getting through.

And I know. It can’t be long before some more riots pop off. Cops killing Black people. Whites got no love. How are you supposed to walk around when they can get you any minute. Racism’s worse than corona.

I know. Everyone online is just stressing. And if there’s just one more argument–

I know. It’s not fair. Everyone is scared. It’s no love. Can’t get any love.

I know. It’s like a war that’s coming. It’s dirty. But rules are rules. If they hate us, gotta hate back.

I know it feels this way. And I know it feels like it just stays this way.

I know it’s not a time for promises. But this is not a promise.

This is just to let you know that through it all, you’re still heard, still seen, and still the future.

To let you know that you got every right to be mad, like from the top of your lungs, ready to let it all out. We’re mad with you. We’re tired of the same old story too.

But I know that you know. That if it’s another day we get, we gotta take it.

So we raise it.

J.T.

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