If You Look Hard Enough, You'll Keep Cool

Today Adolfo Guzman-Lopez shares with us a prose poem about the heat of summer.

The billboard says the Ice Age is coming tomorrow.

There are many signs of the impending cold. Stop thinking about the skin on your forearms getting hotter, as if hot vegetable oil was pouring down slowly from your elbow to the inside of your wrist. It's only the sun, as it reaches through the passenger window in your car.

There's a sign on the white box building, on the building next to where the 710 and 5 freeways cross swords. "Preferred Freezer Services" it says.

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I found the god of rain and water on Arlington Avenue, just a couple blocks south of the shuttered Washington Irving branch library (I wonder if they remembered to take the books). The pineapple seller on Washington Blvd., the one under the rainbow flag umbrella and big white Wimbledon visor was oblivious. Maybe she thinks Tlaloc is a pussycat these days, no sacrifice of children to worry about, no wrath of droughts or floods. I knew better, snap the picture and get the hell out of there. His eyes followed me. It's like that Alvarez Bravo picture, the one of the hungry metal curtain eating the hungry men.

Here's the best hot in the city song. Really, "Tambalea" by Mala Rodriguez is the song to play in that bumper to bumper drive contra corriente along the 101 freeway from downtown into Hollywood or vice versa.

Meader. Slow. Drip with sweat. The AC busted. It's the Guadalquivir going south to Seville. It's the Nile slipping north to the delta. It's the Mississippi sliding south to the Ninth Ward. It's got to be the heat, as Adrian wrote back in the day.

You can't miss the corner of the cemetery when you're on the 710 north banking on the connector to the 60 west. It's a ridiculous scene in the middle of the day. De veras. A couple of four-foot tall sprinklers stand on the part of the cemetery where the tombstones are embedded flat on the ground. The sprinklers sputter water. Like Custer taking some last few shots on that hill before the inevitable. The sprinklers are trying to pull a Lazarus on the brown grass. In 4/4 time the sprinklers do a noon-time spoken word happening,

"Can't let it die. Can't let it die. Can't let it die."

Poet and KPCC Reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez writes his column Movie Miento every week on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. It is a poetic exploration of Los Angeles history, Latino culture and the overall sense of place, darting across LA's physical and psychic borders.

About the Author

Adolfo’s been a reporter at NPR affiliate KPCC since 2000. He’s reported on three L.A. mayors, four L.A. Unified superintendents, and covered the LAPD batons and rubber bullets flying at the May, 2007 MacArthur Park immigrant marc...
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