Sunset over East Hollywood, Los Angeles

Victor Avila: Hope Amid Stones both Tall and Gray

Infinity does not know the grave
though the digger’s hand still turns the soil.
These monuments that some think grand
only mutely invoke the names
of the long forgotten dead.

There is no permanence
as these stones hope to proclaim.
Whether we are buried over here or over there
only bones below in a box remain.

The earth gladly welcomes them.

Perhaps infinity is just a word
Like truth and God and love.
Are they just pretty syllables
for atheists and blasphemers
to ponder in their despair?

Faith is irrational. It’s the logic of angels.

No, I will never understand
the mystery of the silent mountains.
not far beyond these gray and somber stones.
All the secrets of the universe
I’ll leave for others to discover.
The unknown will remain for me unknown.
I am glad of this.

I walk among the intaglio of crosses
and joyfully accept my mortality.
It’s because of this that I do not fear
the eventuality of days.

For every story, even ours, has a conclusion.

The essence of everything
we hold briefly in our hands.
In reality though, there is nothing in between them.
I find this notion both magnificent and grand.

Dust in time will cover even this.

Nothing in life is learned
until beauty becomes our mirror.
Only then will we catch a glimpse
of all that we call immortal.
We do well when we chase the ethereal.

For it is in the chasing of it, that we find most joy.

V.A.

Victor Avila is a winner of the Chicano Literary Prize. His poetry collection, “The Mystic Thrones of Night,” was published through Vagabond Books in 2019. Victor’s poetry has been widely published and anthologized. Recent work can be found in such collections as EXTREME: An Anthology for Social and Economic Justice, and The Border Crossed Us. Victor has taught in California schools for over thirty years.

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There’s nothing to fear

When you hold yourself up long enough

After a while,

The stars begin to catch you if you fall.

Let’s spread our wings Los Angeles;

Let’s fall and fall

And rise again.

J.T.

At Last

And it’s one of those nights where the journey is long and your stomach is just begging and pleading for some action, when from out of nowhere your bus driver announces it’s time for a meal break.

You step off the bus and see the gas station, and it’s the greatest landmark you’ve ever laid eyes on; a gift from generations of hungry souls before yours.

You walk in, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and find immediate comfort in the warmth of the brew as it fills the small cup palmed by your hand. After topping if off with some creamer, you take a sip, cherish it, and look around for a treat to complete your late night snack family. The options are endless, as cookies, croissants, and sandwiches make up just a few of the possibilities for delight.

Your appetite longs to meet all of them, but tonight, there can only be one. Finally, you go with a coffee cake and a pair of bananas for good measure and nutrition.

Walking up to the register, you realize that the woman behind the counter is an angel, who happily greets you as you slide your debit card to officially make the meal yours. You thank her, and even wish her a good night as you head outside to perform your ritual.

Outside, you eat mechanically, as bit by bit coffee and cake caress your hunger into submission. A moment later, the bananas finish the job, at last quelling the chance of hearing any more from your belly for the evening.

You can only feel love in this moment: love for your bus driver, love for the gas station, and love for your country.

Somewhere, a part of you wants to join the air force just so you can show how much love you feel. But before you can finish that thought, your bus driver announces that it’s time to get back on the road. You immediately follow his instructions, nearly marching to the bus in a show of honor, knowing it is the only thing you can do to acknowledge the incredible value of his existence to your life at this juncture.

Aboard the bus, you take your seat, lean your head back, and fall into place for the last stretch of your journey. You’ve made it, and now nothing can stop you from reaching your promise-land. From the bus driver to the last bite of your banana, it is all on your side.

 

On Faith, Love, and In Between: Community Arts in Los Feliz

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Hip hop in full swing at the Beautiful Gate’s Open Mic; Los Feliz, L.A.

Yesterday Los Feliz and East Hollywood were both treated to an Open Mic night hosted by the Beautiful Gate community of the Los Feliz neighborhood in North-Central L.A. The event brought together singers, dancers, poets, and other artists from all over Los Angeles for a jam-packed evening of expression; as a photographer for the night, I counted nearly three-hundred shots of people of all ages and colors enjoying each other’s company with relatively few strings attached.

The Beautiful Gate is a faith-based movement that launched earlier this year. Unlike many faith organizations, however, the Beautiful Gate aims to “change the way people experience Christ and the church,” according to Samuel Theophylus, the organization’s head visionary.
Continue reading “On Faith, Love, and In Between: Community Arts in Los Feliz”