L.A. Poem in two parts

L.A. cacti


I came to Los Angeles
looking for the eagle perched on the cactus

I came to Los
Wondering where the Templo Mayor lay buried

Story continues below

In my city
Mexico City
Jaguar heads of volcanic stone
Became cornerstones for colonial palaces
Became podiums for politicians
Became baptism wells for el nuevo mexicano

In my new city
Adobe forts
Became post war tract homes
As far as the eye can see
Doing a suburban sway
Like Kansas wheat fields

It's here
The Californio city
Buried under the oil well city
Buried under the Zoot Suit city
Buried under the Dunbar city

Orthodox shuls
Under Brooklyn Avenue sonidero speakers

The Eastside minaret
Blasts narco corridos
The Eastside minaret
Blasts Cri Cri
The Eastside minaret
Blasts na na-na-na-na na-na-na na-na-na

The river
Forearms graffiti-tattooed

The frogs lay dormant under the concrete
The grape vines lay under the concrete
The cornfields sleep

The echoes of the Vex, the Masque and the El Monte
There too

We used to sing in our homes
The songs lay buried there
The stories lay buried there

Use your hands
Dig deep
Use your nose
Dig deep
Use your mouth
Dig deep
Use your heart
Dig deep


The building on Western and Adams
Praise God said the architect
Concrete lines
From man to heaven

The lobby welcomed
Drew Mason Dixon Line

Chapter one
A mural
Then sculptures, then paintings, then drawings, then prints

Charles and his jar of black ink
He carved a seat on a rock
For General Moses to sit
On the bank of the river
Her gaze
Across the border
She's staring from the hills of
Past the border patrol helicopters

General Moses
Wears a white shirt
On the day of protests
At First and Broadway

Betye's etched bull
One leap
From Chavez Ravine
To Florence and Normandie

The bull leaps from burning palm trees
To South Central bulldozers tearing out hair
From it's roots: nopales, calabazas

Elizabeth's hips
Are the trunk of the ahuehuete
Fingers the roots of the caoba
She dreams with Ana
As they try on nightgowns
Made of mud
And the first four rings of a tree

For Elizabeth
Mahogany is two people
Melting at the shoulders
Cheeks join eyes
Two wombs form a cradle
Ven aqui
Join us

Both Johns have died
Bill Pajaud sits them down
On the La Brea breeze
From here Crenshaw is the Nile
Bill serves the fish
This time Jonah hears God
The Golden State tribe is dispersed
Each sold at auction

The sculpture talks to the painting
Both resign themselves to dream
About the building on Western and Adams

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