Old Habits

How easy it is, how easy,
for the brain to trick us
into wiping pain away,
into thinking you’re here at my door,
or in the kitchen by my side, sipping
at the mug, sighing at the early hour,
calling my name, your
mouth at my ear.
How easy, how easy.

The brain contorts memory
to shadows of itself, clipping
connections to calendars
and seasons, children growing
into future mists we veil over when
we’re tricked. I hear footsteps,
jingling keys, the gentle click
of a door unlocked, water lapping
at your washbowl, gentle, curling,
steaming stream gurgling, and
you humming as you shave your neck.

How easy it is
to hear these precious sounds again,
these tiny tunes of love,
tricking death and me with
double shots of cruelty: warmth
at the reliving; then stabs
of recollection,
of seeing you lowered,
sinking,
roses sliding
to the soil.

T.R.

“Former Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna weaves hernationally-recognized skills as poet and as storyteller to craft a stirring, heartfelt memoir in poems that captures the essence of her husband’s brave, love-filled life—and the despair she navigated and surmounted when her spouse of 50 years died suddenly in minor surgery.”

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The Rite of Passage in L.A.

Sometimes poverty and addiction is all you see,

Is this the world I left behind to you,

Or is this what was left behind to me?

What I know is I hurt with you when you weep,

Broken promises that left you, scars we both keep.

Keep ya head up, they told me

Now it’s your turn.

Destiny?

You see you yourself are not a broken promise, though,

Homie.

You just have to make your way through,

to know

What’s truly free.

You’ll be free.

J.T.

Calling All Bloggers, Writers, Storytellers: Publish Your Voice on Jimbo Times: The L.A. Storyteller

It’s true.

“After five years of JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller, it’s time to make space on the blog for more voices and stories from communities in Los Angeles and beyond. Enter the new Submissions feature. To maintain and expand the blog’s love for city life and attention to its working class communities, here are the types of pieces writers everywhere are encouraged to submit…”

Readers everywhere can be confident that I’m very proud of this latest milestone for the site, and that I likewise very much look forward to seeing what stories we’ll be getting out there! Head on over to the new SUBMISSIONS page to go and see for yourself!

J.T.

Hey Los Angeles: Thank You Again,

If the city is actually something in a person’s imagination, then what I see when I look into the face of Los Angeles today is something infinitely more golden, with lemonade spruced on top, percolating through winds from worlds away; even now at five years since JTLA first spawned onto the scene, on days like this I feel as much warmth past the throes of traffic and concrete making up the tiny corner I call home as I did five calendars ago.

While my eyes may perceive things in a slightly different light from how they saw things when the city first daintily glistened as I found myself amid L.A.’s voices, my memories now pick up where my vision might trail off.

I can still remember just returning to Los Angeles, when all I could hope for was finding a way to serve the world that raised me here with everything that I could muster. Eventually, serving became a matter of inspiring others to imagine a place for themselves in the big city’s future, too. From the trails of inspiration I’d eventually wander into tests of my resilience, or experiences which seemed to ask: How does one remain inspired while also remaining resilient?

Over time, I’d find that the balance between being inspired and being resilient is probably about as constant as the balance between the moon and skylight above my brows; every time I look up at the two again, both are just a little different as they take turns filling the abyss.

But if I’m still moving like the clouds above while I stretch my arms across savory grass below, I find my thoughts churning at a speed parallel to that of the clouds’ movement, as I muse at how I just may actually be right in the middle of the universe, at the center of my existence, somehow free or just right up against freedom–perhaps the closest I’ll ever be–when I face the city with warmth emanating from my inner-most being.

This is probably the city’s greatest gift to me: it’s brought me closer not just to others, but to myself. Amid the amalgamation of passersby searching through the shadows in Los Angeles’s abandonment, I find light in a stasis, or from a place where conscience thinks again before marveling at the elements defying odds all around it; if for the slightest difference, none of it–none of this–could be, so I can only conclude more resoundingly then:

Even after all this time, Los Angeles is still one of the greatest cities in the world; as the feats of so many citygoers continue dancing in its iridescence, I’m grateful to stretch my legs back into this existence again, too, to know I’m not alone in it, and to imagine still more possibilities as everything meets its counterpart, its opposite, and yet newer gravity unearthing potential for infinitely more together.

J.T.