Notes Poetry

Today, I read a poem…

It was by Helena Lipstadt entitled “A Quarrel with the Village of My Birth.”

The word “village” lured me in.

I fell in love with each “Even her” – especially in the following line:

“Even her avenues are lined with pikes.”

Then I read each “Of course” and was compelled to share.

Read “A Quarrel with the Village of My Birth” at Porter House Review.

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!”


Things I Believe In…

As of today, the following are the things that I believe in. This list may change tomorrow. Shit, this shit might change in an hour.

All I know is that I believe in:

  1. Lonzo Ball — the pride of Chino Hills just dropped his first-ever triple double. The talking heads can keep talking. I believe in Lonzo Ball and his weird-ass jumpshot.
  2. Frank Ocean — I listen to Nostalgia, Ultra., like, once a week. The man can sing and just like the Geto Boys, Frank Ocean doesn’t give a damn about a Grammy.
  3. 35mm cameras — I still own my Canon Elan 7 that I bought from Samy’s Camera over 15 years ago. Whenever I get tired of digital, I grab for the film, and I shoot.

To be continued.


Lessons in Writing, No. 24

When life gets difficult — and especially when it gets difficult — write. Write every day. No matter what.

Get that flow.

Easier said than done, I’m learning. I’m fixated.

On the table, salt-and-pepper shakers served as towers of demarcation, posted in between his hugging hands and her reddening elbows, and I watched from the sidelines, my body floating above the demilitarized zone and listened to them talk about writing and its place inside anxious minds.

“The world is sick,” he said.

“But the world’s always been sick,”she replied, “People have always died. Wars always fought. Presidents in shame, hearts dimmed. But underneath those dark skies, writers wrote.”

So I left and I wrote.


Career Change

I quit exacty a year ago. I said to myself, “This can’t be your life.” So I quit.

I told my wife “Let’s move back to L.A. I’ll take care of the kid, and in between,

I’ll follow what I’ve always wanted to follow – be a writer full time.”

So I quit.

“See you later, Baltimore. It’s back home I go.”

Now it’s been a year since. This time last year I was preparing for a cross-country trip, from the Mid-Atlantic to the West Coast.

And now I’m good.

My friends always ask:

“Hey, man, are you good?” I’m good. More good than ever.

I feel like I did my time in those cubicles, sitting in front of those computer screens, slouching low on those conference room chairs, e-mail after e-mail after e-mail.

I feel like I’m finally doing me – and so – I’m good.

My next step is to completely unplug from the unnecessary and focus on the necessary — to wean myself off of social media. I need a sabbatical. I just feel nasty when I engage nowadays. Posting photos, tweeting. It’s just too much out there. I no longer want to contribute. I want to get out of the conversation and find my voice again. There’s so much noise that I started to miss the silence.

I’m not ghosting. I’m simply on sabbatacial. No judgement served either. I can’t wait to get back into the mix.

These days, I prefer the comfort of my personal blog. This right here, a blog about me and my relationships with the world, especially with the citizens of L.A., my hometown, the freeways, the streets, the playgrounds, the sights, and the sounds. My kid, my wife, and my dogs.

I quit and now I’m good.

L.A. Notes

L.A. on Light

Cap back. Sunset on low.

Dippin’ down the block.

The kid enjoys his long drives around the neighborhood.

Got me pushing him around in his mini-me car, battling the uneven sidewalks, the rolling stops, dogs, territorial birds, overall non-gangsta shit in former gangsta lands. I’d rather stay in, take him — and his whip — out some other time, but I just can’t say no — so we drive on and on and on and on.

When the L.A. sun is out, that quiet whisper of a gleam, that light that lands so gently on the body, feels like it welcomes more than it brightens, all spirits heighten. In the land of fame and spotlight, the L.A. sun is prime resident. Everyone else abides.

“But ‘L.A. sun?'” she said. “There’s only one sun, fool. The SUN.”

“No, no. The L.A. sun is the L.A. sun.”

That late-afternoon light, that “cotton candy sky.”

(See: An article in The New Yorker about the glow of L.A. by Lawrence Weschler).

L.A. Music

Explicit Lyrics Obscured

Accidentally pressed ‘Play’ on a clean version of DAMN the other day.

And — damn — that shit still sound so good.

Left it on.

Made it look sexy.

L.A. Notes

L.A. Corner On The Cob

Also known as elote.

Classified as goddamned street food.

Found with a strong sense of exploration and don’t-give-a-fuck-ness.

Eaten under the L.A. sun.

Made of hard work, resilience, and flair — with a dash of L.A. smog.

The recipe according to Chef Roy Choi:

  • Corn (shucked)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter (softened)
  • Salt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cotjia cheese
  • Cayenne
  • Lime

See: L.A. Son by Roy Choi