A pigeon sits atop a lamp post in East Hollywood, Los Angeles

99 Problems but a Blog is not one; a Bookmark for J.T.’s Pandemic in Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 99)

The following is an arrangement of headlines on J.T. celebrating 99 consecutive days of blogging for Los Angeles since the start of the pandemic here. Each line represents a blog, a meditation on the city, an ode, a love letter. Feel free to type any line into the “search” bar on the site to delve into more for our communities:

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)
J.T. The L.A. Storyteller is now on Spotify
Exhaling
Super Pan Bakery of the Virgil Village is being displaced from our community
Get your first ever Los Snapbacks by Jimbo Times
Two Sides of Wonder (An 8th grade student’s poem on being)
Get your first ever Los Hoodies by Jimbo Times
West Hollywood makes way: All Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles
Three months after shut-down, L.A. “reopens” while both COVID-19 and LAPD budget remain uncontained, posing the greatest risk to Black, Latino, and AAPI communities
LAPD will receive nearly 1.9 billion dollars next year while housing & community investment will lose millions
Today, put your sunscreen on and get ready for another walk, Los Angeles
Nahshon D. Anderson: Don’t just Black out now; support queer & trans writers of color
America’s greatness has always been measured by the scale of white violence
Victor Avila: Hope Amid Stones both Tall and Gray
Better late than never: Educating one young hyena in Los Angeles, Part I
Five times David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest FAILS
On Metro’s Gold Line in Los Angeles
Home by the 101 Freeway
Dealing with our news cycle
Tap Cards Out: How L.A. Metro Normalizes Policing, Jailing, Penalizing People of Color
Submit your writing
Bethanee Epifani: Looks Can Kill a Whole Vibe: An Excerpt from Don’t Fall Prey!
Jeremy Tong: A Remembrance for Demetrio Zuniga Farias, Mayor of Breed Street
Meg Rakos: Supay & New York City: Two Adventures, One Destiny
With Demons in the Room
Thelma T. Reyna: Old Habits
Beverly M. Collins: The Mist
Julieta Galan: Memories of our reality
A Strand of Humanity (An 8th grade student’s poem on this COVID-19 season)
Nery Edwin Monroy: Loving Father, Tío to Many
Waiting Again, Los Angeles
Why all 15 L.A. City Council Members should now resign
I Knew (A 7th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Coronavirus lands in East Hollywood, Silver Lake
In a Box, Hidden from My View, Lies a Record
East Hollywood Can Do Better by its Kids
Episode 16 – Japanese Americans on the East Side of L.A.
Home Again
CONTACT
It’s going to be another trailblazing summer in East Hollywood
How to beat Summer 2019: Part I
How to beat Summer 2019: Part II
How to beat Summer 2019: Part III
Don’t Be One Who You Are Not (A 7th grade student’s poem on Identity)
Rap Heat Coming from a Latino: Music in L.A. with Sal Roses
BONUS: How to Outline Your Summer 2019
5 Tips for when 4th of July Sucks
5 NOs to remember with your fams this Summer
Twenty (-Six) Years After the L.A. Riots: How Things Have Changed
We Meet Again Los Angeles
Making Face, Making Soul (1990)
10 Ways Not to Beat Summer 2019
Secret Agent: How to Discover your Neighborhood in Los Angeles
When I Rest My Temple
Asi Somos Los Angeles
10 Things We Learned from an Incredible Time at Our Back to School Party this August 25th, 2018
The Fight for Los Angeles continues: Meet Diana Mabel Cruz
Los Angeles is in Fashion: Meet Mauricio Zelada
“Homelessness” in Los Angeles Today is the Result of Decades of American Discrimination
This year: Thank you Los Angeles
How LAUSD’s Teacher Problem is a Moment of Truth for Progressive Future of California
Motivating Vibes: Music in L.A. with Jon Quest
Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz
A 7th Grade Student’s Poem for Black Lives in Los Angeles
We Will Not be Erased: How Open Mics in Our Community Uplift our Cultural History
BEE STING (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)
Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition (2013)
Tony Bao Tang: Song Unsilenced
By Escalating the Police State, Mayor Garcetti is Officially L.A.’s First White Supremacist Mayor of the 21st Century
What a Ride, Los Angeles; Our Final Flyer for BTS 2 is Now Live
Redlining in Los Angeles
The Soft Graze and the Pitch (An 8th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Top 5 DON’Ts with your friends this Summer
A reflection on Father’s Day for every working-class father, and all the mothers who also play the role in Los Angeles
Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is about fulfilling a need, lunging forward
José Ocampo: I Wanted School to Be Over
Top 5 NOs to Remember with Relationships this Summer
The Path of Togetherness (An 8th grade student’s poem on Growth)
Food Justice in East Hollywood is growing fruits & veggies at Madison Ave Community Garden
You are allowed to press reset, Los Angeles
Episode 17 – Rick’s Produce Uplifts Families with Free Fruits & Veggies
Kevin Walton King: During Trauma, Crisis, and Times of Transition, Love is Essential
About
In Pictures: Marching for Justice Along Compton boulevard for Andrés Guardado
Please sign your name to the petition calling for justice for Andrés Guardado, an 18 year old fatally shot by the L.A. County sheriff’s department
This Juneteenth: Emancipate History to Make Way for a New Future in Los Angeles
Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997)
Los Angeles is not represented by its elected officials. It is trembling on the knees of the dying men and women of its sidewalks
Helena Maria Viramontes: Their Dogs Came with Them (2006)
Summer has arrived in Los Angeles, and J.T. is going to Publishing School with LARB
Madison Block Loses a Little Brother for the Ages, Fernie “Belok” Puga
Donate to Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party this Summer 2019
Jose Huizar Proves How L.A. City Hall Serves Foreign Millionaires While Jailing and Displacing its Poorest Residents
Subscribe to J.T. The L.A. Storyteller
We Raise It: A Poem for Los Youngs During These Times
Sign Your Name to Support Police-Free Libraries in Los Angeles
El Cipitío (2016), the new Cipitío
The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department
Home page/Archives

J.T.

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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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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.

Second Chance (A Ninth Grade Student’s Poem on Redemption)

Everyone needs a second chance,

A second chance to say goodbye.

To say sorry, to understand.

To hold a grudge or to start a new chapter,

A chance to remain hurt, or a chance to forgive and forget.

But why remain hurt if there’s a second chance to stop hurting.

I need a second chance, you need a second chance,

We need a second chance.

MT

MT is a Black 9th grade student at Dorsey High School in the West Adams area of Los Angeles. His favorite hobbies include playing basketball when he’s outside, and playing Fortnite when he’s stuck at home. This poem is dedicated to his father.

The Path of Togetherness (An Eighth Grade Student’s Poem on Growth)

As I wait patiently and try
Desperately to gain enlightenment I recognize a path that
Represents something unique.

Independently I strive to connect with this path,
But there are battles inside me casting a blinding fog
Trying to distract me. 

The fog tries to cast away my connection to the path,
But when I look closer, it calls out to me.

The path communicates a message of bonding,
Of teamwork and togetherness

It communicates gracefully, pushing me forward.

I recognize the path as one creating new opportunities for my future.

The path begins to become a part of me,
My trust starts to build upon this path I chose.

I have new paths to make, where I can manifest ideas
To develop my own independence
And to help others grow and manifest theirs.

SS

This poem is dedicated to the Los Cuentos community.

A Strand of Humanity (An Eighth Grade Student’s Poem on this Covid19 Season)

I sit here alone between four dark walls
Longing for a connection I can’t help but recall

This deadly virus has taken more than spirit and soul.
It’s also broken a ritual between me and my friends.

I wish I could say “hi” to them,
Or shake their hands, or tap them on the shoulder.

Now we sit isolated in virtual reality,
Only a strand of humanity.

School and work are gone, off limits
But these places aren’t just somewhere to be,

They also bring light in to a dark room.

Calamity over the virus now makes for empty shelves,
People panicking ignorantly,
Angering themselves, shoving each other.

I hope to see some deliverance soon,
A respite from this gloom to light up my room.

JC

This poem is dedicated to the city of Los Angeles and all who read this poem.

Julieta Galan: Memories of our reality

State street park, a comfort zone on the street to me.

I’d go there to play on the swings,

I’d feel the breeze passing through my untamed frizzy hair,

Through leaves of the trees and the rattling grass.

It balances the warmth of the sun, enough to be able to withstand the sun a while longer.

There are times that the sun gives streaks of golden sunlight on the grass,

The grass that has just been showered with water.

And if you listen closely it’s almost as if mother nature is trying to communicate with you.

This is the park where the recreation center instructor taught me how to play the guitar,

Where I first stepped foot on a stage to perform the Yellow Submarine by The Beatles in cold December.

The first terrifying moment of my childhood,

My heart was pounding and my hands were sweating,

I felt as if I was a contestant on American Idol,

It was only that the recreation center was encouraging me to practice the confidence that I carry within me.

Seven years later since I’ve visited this park it has only been a reminder of how I used to feel towards it.

Returning to this park now, I see the saddening truth of it all.

There is a fence dividing the park and the street that gets smashed into the basketball court,

Threatening the lives of the youngsters playing in the court.

Young drunk girls pee on the grass,

The gang that once used to run the park are all cracked out, not going anywhere with their lives,

These cracked out fools only looking for trouble asking the kids “what street they claim.”

In a house across the street the dealers sell drugs to anyone who needs a fix.

The police continuously make rounds around the park day and night staring down anyone who looks suspicious.

I can only reminisce about how I felt,

It is a different life at State street park when you’re all grown up.

In the 20th century Boyle heights had a diversity of Japanese, Latinos, and Jewish, but because of racist banks the Jewish were run out. They could not borrow money or buy houses even after Bill Phillips helped in the process of bringing all these people together. Economics and racism are pretty much the same thing in Boyle Heights. The banks didn’t want to lend the Jewish people money or decide to reconstruct their homes, forcing them to move out.

J.G.

Julieta Galan is a Boyle Heights native and resident of Los Angeles.

Beverly M. Collins: The Mist

It’s 8:30 pm. I become aware of the cold

Temperature of the station bench through

My clothing. The train’s headlight appears

On the track, a distant sun blinking so far off

There is no warmth from its rays.

The feeling draws me back to our afternoon

Meeting announcement that a re-organization

Is about to disorganize my life and reveal

Accumulated dust in its corners

It’s funny how one sentence can tighten temples,

Add pepper and vinegar to a fresh cup of coffee

And suck all the air from the room at the same time.

These moments come out of the mist,

Bringing a chilly foul odor with a perfume label.

An appointment with insomnia placed before

Me with the dash of a stiff smile

Back at my desk, my attention creeps over

To the upside. I recalled insomnia visiting me with

Increased frequency over the past two years.

Let me see: demands, aching hands and insomnia

Versus insomnia and a new start. The cup before

Me was suddenly half full. It is not too sweet, but it

Has some cream.

B.M.C.

(First published in Poetry Letter and Literary Review, CSPS)

Beverly M. Collins is the author of the books, Quiet Observations: Diary Thought, Whimsy and Rhyme and Mud in Magic. Her works have also appeared in California Quarterly, Poetry Speaks! A year of Great Poems and Poets, The Hidden and the Divine Female Voices in Ireland, The Journal of Modern Poetry, Spectrum, The Altadena Poetry Review, Lummox, The Galway Review (Ireland), Verse of Silence (New Delhi), Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine (London), Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), The Wild Word magazine (Berlin), Indigomania (Australia) and more.

Tony Bao Tang: Song Unsilenced

Let loving words unsaid remain

In place of lost goodbyes withheld

For unsung verses bittersweet

In songs of memory shall obtain

A timely voice without conceit

Untuned yet echoing harmony

Lyrics unheard yet ever felt

Our song unsilenced bidding farewell

T.B.T.

A few words from the author: I’ve realized recently that the more living, learning, and loving you do, the more you have left to do. It’s a perpetual cycle, so it seems, but I kind of like it. Writing has become one of my vehicles to express and reflect upon this cycle. Come along for the journey, if you so wish, HERE.

Thelma T. Reyna: 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 her nationally 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.”