Poetry Vignettes

Beetle on a String

We looped a thread around the beetle’s body.

It buzzed over our heads.

Circling, circling, circling.

No remorse. No retreat.

Wasn’t about life. Wasn’t about a game.

Was about the day, was about time.

The Scarab Beetle, lost in the world.


Only to be handcuffed for being strong.

Held down, flight cancelled for the night.

The next day, dead. The thread tied around its corpse.

Limp-like, breathless.

The salagubang. A friend.

L.A. Vignettes

A Conversation Under a Bridge

La Cienega Blvd. under the 10 freeway.

“I thought it, poetic .”

“Not really; more of a clichéd poetic.”

“Doesn’t it say something to you?”

“What does it say to you?”

“I marvel at the fact that one word, as simple as one word, can move someone, like the same way a poem moves when you read it, all just words. You look at a billboard, words. It gives you a message. You internalize it. Words move, even if those words don’t make sense. Out of context, and sometimes, with way too much context, and even just one word, one tag, that can move.”

“I wonder if the guy who owns all that shit is okay, and of course, I immediately think, of course, he’s not okay. But he was just there. Surviving. And you think, How long does he have left? I mean, if that’s rock bottom…”

“How do you know that that’s rock bottom?”

“If that’s not rock bottom, if that’s not the lowest one will go, one can go, then what does low look like?”

“It looks like death. That’s the lowest one can go.”

“I think we’re high when we’re dead. When we die, we’re not dead anymore. We’re elsewhere. I no longer matter to people, and people no longer matter to me. I, for one, couldn’t give a fuck about another stranger dying.”

“Would you give a fuck if that person who owned all that shit died?”

“Yes. Now, I do. I feel like I know him now.” 

L.A. Vignettes

What Happened to Western Avenue?

What happened to the good ol’ days? Well, they went away with the winter rains. The gutter took them from block to block and dumped down to the beach where the tourists play, down by the Santa Monica Pier.

What happened to Western Avenue? They took away its soul and replaced it with a ghoul. But it’s been so long that nobody noticed that the soul was gone. So the ghoul stays and says hello.

What happened to you and me? You and me are here. We read and we write and sometime we fight about what we read and write, and by some miraculous occurrence and by the end of the night, we find ourselves smoking weed by the dim street light.


Words Written

Her voice was thunderous, all things went mute, headed for the backgrounds, power audibles coming through.

“Natapos mo ba?”

“Opo,” I said with my head down, looking at my dirty toenails.

She held my hand and dragged me down the hallway. My slippers slip, slipping away. She led me to my table inside my bedroom and picked up the piece of paper with my words written. She examined it like Sister Agnes of Santo Tomas Ed., with her slappy-itchy swat hand ready for the swatting. Her eyes squinted, her lips pursed, a sigh followed. After a few seconds, she folded the paper — with my hour’s worth of work on it — into a tiny one-by-one square, tiny enough to fit behind her tragus and snuggly within her outer ear.

“Again!” she said. “Again!”


Jungle Rules

Inside the No. 52.

Long Beach Transit. Blue limo gold.

A woman choked.

“Your momma,” she said, before the man lunged forward.

His hands on her neck.

Spittle everywhere. White hands gripped the rail.

Red faced with a bus-full of diverted eyes.

No one. Nobody cared.

In the ‘hood, you are on your own.

Attack and be attacked.

“Jungle rules, ya know?”

The hands are now gripped around my neck.

“Best make sure to fight back, cuh.”

Out of towners. Knives on Metro.

The L.A. lesson. The Chicago-boy king.

Attack and be attacked.

He thought he was the shit.