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 Found Poem: Echoes from Zuccotti Park

– after “Revolution Number 99,” Vanity Fair, February, 2012

it started in Egypt / a bunch of young people using social media / inspired us

and the Indignados in Madrid’s Puerto del Sol / quickly spread throughout Spain

don’t be so sure this can’t happen here / “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?”

we just thought it would take a little longer / this thing started having a life of its own

the poster / a ballerina on top of this dynamic bull / we were going to take the bull / but

the bull was already occupied / by the police / there was an insane number of cops

horse cops / scooter cops / platoons of foot soldiers looking for something to do

we didn’t know we were going to end up in Zuccotti Park / you had to jockey for space, find

your spot, lay down your cardboard and your sleeping bag / there was this incredible energy

it rained like hell / the mood shifted/ from fear to a lot of hope / I’ve never felt more right

she was old enough to receive a senior-citizen discount / she wore a Guy Fawkes mask

17th century insurrectionist / the V for Vendetta mask was cheap and available / in every city

of the world / it was cool to be a lefty again / “Go cause trouble” / you could see

people being arrested and thrown into buses / young people realize their future

was mortgaged / “hacktivists” had brought down the websites of Visa and MasterCard

a cop came and slammed us down on the ground / it took a few seconds to feel tear gas

hurts to open your eyes / you can’t really breathe / this horrible burning all over your face

“Who are the men who really run this land?” / there are these long waves of American history

and we’re due for one / “And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?”

by October 15, Day 29 of the occupation, rallies had spread / Tokyo, Chicago, London, Manila

I’d seen it everywhere / wake people up / the park is symbolic now

the protest is bigger than that / amazing that it worked / like the Arab spring

people felt like they had a voice again because we had that space / are you ready

note:  Italicized lines are from David Crosby’s 1971 song, “What Are Their Names?”

Dissonant

 

Insolent beauty

next to these bruised swollen feet

a wild daffodil

~ ~ ~

Bound together

madmen, mothers, monks

whose mantra to choose

~ ~ ~

A tempest sky

stirred up by too much human

the blue still of fear

_________________________________________________________________

Amy Uyematsu is a Los Angeles-based poet and former teacher (mathematics, creative writing, Asian American Studies).  She is Sansei (3rd-generation Japanese American).  Her published works include 30 Miles from J-Town (1992), Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain (1997), and Stone Bow Prayer (2005).  Her poetry has also been featured in various anthologies, including The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles (2003, eds. by Scott Timberg and Dana Gioia) and Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (2008, eds. Christopher Buckley and Gary Young).  You can read more of Uyematsu’s poetry online at the Poetry Foundation website.

Lauren Villa

Some see a lake of fire at the end of it, others a ring of isolation.

The fire had begun nibbling at my heels but

I hurried away unscathed.

I tasted the lick of heaven

and it drips with ease

like a cool IV.

Floating back down, I swayed in the wind

of miniature blue and white feathers,

parakeet’s wings motioning me

back and forth but always forward.

No one

walks in heaven,

I came back gently and quietly.

And the fire began to nibble at my heels again.

San Telmo, Buenos Aires (Photo credit: Melissa Lunden)

Lauren Villa was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she proudly resides. Once an aspiring astronaut, found her calling with words when she could not reconcile the torrid relationship she had with Physics. She loves penguins, the Dodgers and vodka.

Carolina

sweet thing in crescent moon
heels tappin’ like glass rain,

leopard purse in pendulum sway,
shoulder like smooth night,

I know you’re waiting for that second
look under Bushwick overpass.

You’re not waiting for the L train.
No, it don’t stop here.

Your waiting for that beige Cadillac.
You love an angel devil man

and his kiss spike your blood good.
Velvet talkin’ devil man

said you got the goods & took you
deep into the life, bait to boil.

I never did nothing like that before.

Funny, how the eyes gaze vacant
when there’s no turning back

and the track’s all there is.

I just want someone to love me,
that’s what all the girls say.

No mama or daddy gonna save me.

Against a blank wall,
a man’s shadow

opens door #26
without a knock.

Blinds drop low
onto a fuzzy backwater blue.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Angela Peñaredondo is  is a Los Angeles poet and visual artist. She was born in Iloilo City, Philippines and grew up in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.  She received her BFA from San Francisco State University and also studied mixed media arts in the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia.  Angela has a professional background in art management, curatorial practice and youth advocacy.  She was awarded a UCLA Community Access Scholarship for poetry and a Fishtrap Fellowship.

"Zaira," etching by Colleen Corradi Brannigan

Unforgettable, Too

I grew up in a town where my poetry

was born between the city’s island

and Mami’s soul kitchen on the 6th floor,

it took its voice from graffiti walls and like rhythm,

it steeped itself in the blues.

Bebopping to music made from scratch

I crossed state lines

to, stubbornly, fall in love.

Floating between shooting stars

in southern summer nights

I couldn’t fathom any place

being greater than the greatest city in the world.

The empire of neon and chrome

The sanctuary of bohemia

The primitive grounds of sound

and imagery and the spoken word.

But I love southern waters without knowing

how, or when, or from where.

It’s without complexities or pride

that I surrender to southern skies.

I become sacred all over again

at every sunset.

I rise at dawn to surrender to love

—to southern love, to exude

an inner southern belle, ‘cause I know

the way countrymen love

is like Pacific waves walloping

against wooden boats: a to and fro

motion that syncs with the pulse

of my moans.

My father sang to me once, till the night slithered

its way past us.

Under flowing skirts were gyrating

Marjua Estevez

hips that learned to dance bachata and merengue

so that one day Mr. Man could learn

how my bloodline began.

You see—I’m rooted in el barrio, in the country.

My adoration split between giant skyscrapers

and the soft scent of salt water is a spell

I tenderly give in to…

My city is my anthem,

but the country will always be my story.

 ____________________________________________________________

Marjua Estevez is a fourth-year Graphic Design student attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. She originally hails from the “city that never sleeps,” and has a vivacious passion for the art of writing.  She has published various poems in academic publications. She has interned with The Source magazine and is currently interning with Back\Slash magazine.

"Joshua Tree - Halloran Springs Road" - Photo by John Nyboer

winter garden

— rio de janeiro jardim botanico, 2009

inside this forest / the sky is invisible / as it rains all morning

so many open mouths / philodendrum and palm / bromiliad and wren

a man and woman/ once so drunk in love / find shelter here

no sound but rain / hand cupping hand / the moist green air


still spring

in season’s late rain / we travel poppy-domed hills/ pilgrims’ eyes

brimming / the chirp of sparrows and kids / playing well past dark

whose small throated sighs / a lover’s quarrel / that blue trickster

time / how real our wide shining eyes / is this the last kiss


counting out 9’s

call me superstitious :  9/9/9

Photo of Amy Uyematsu by Raul Contreras

time to take stock, turn a corner, or

party like I’ve never done before

my summer brimming with sushi menus,

blackjack tables, high school reunions,

brazilian beaches and samba drums

I return to a city on fire

and a country at war with itself

where nobody listens, nobody

cares like we did 40 years ago

flush with woodstock, the moonwalk, and me

awakening to revolution,

to my lai massacres and the black

panthers, to clamorous demands for

ethnic studies and yellow power

back then play lost out to politics

I listened to motown but quoted

marx and malcolm, angela and mao

no one in 1969 could

ever imagine 9-11

or a president named obama

I was once such a wise 21

but four decades blur and bleed between

and there’s no working compass in sight

 

Amy Uyematsu is a Los Angeles-based poet and former teacher (mathematics, creative writing, Asian American Studies).  She is Sansei (3rd-generation Japanese American).  Her published works include 30 Miles from J-Town (1992), Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain (1997), and Stone Bow Prayer (2005).  Her poetry has also been featured in various anthologies, including The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles (2003, eds. by Scott Timberg and Dana Gioia) and Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (2008, eds. Christopher Buckley and Gary Young).  You can read more of Uyematsu’s poetry online at the Poetry Foundation website.

 

"LA River Graffiti Wall" - Photo by John Nyboer

Migration

is that when I take one step forward

two steps back, can’t help myself

the flaws run deep rooted in southern soil

pulling back strong like the wind in the hair

of my flawed self, straightening the waves and wings

heat of blow dryer and brush from roots

to ends will always fly

towards home

Tracy Darling

I am moved, migration

is that when I am stirred

with a force so strong, recognizable

blood-deep, my hand reaching out touching

cold, smooth glass welcoming

a wallow in self-pity

the alcohol wet like the ocean

a mottled mass of gray and green

less blue

tugging me home

I am moved, migration

is that what you call it when my mind pulls me

down, seeking only the darkness

blind body slumped on cold, smooth tile

in the bathroom refusing

to switch on the light and hope

until tomorrow

no doubt

I am moved

migration

my feet traveling up stairs

hands shutting out noise

head on pillow, down of feathers

to the chin, mind wandering, seeking

another place and time and body

another me, migration

my mind no longer resides in the same

room my body occupies

migration

I am moved

(2010)

Tracy Darling hosts The Moe Green Poetry Discussion on The World Wide Radio Network.  She is a proud graduate of the University of Virginia and reads her poetry in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles.

Gun Crazy

I’ll bet you called them your little family,

set them up in your dollhouse, took them

to tea, fed them cake, swept little silver bodies

under your pillow at night,

I’ll bet you played with bullets as a child.

What do you dream about?

Furs, pearls, a meal ticket, a smokeless Colt—

rimless with a pearl handle? You found yourself

hitched in the desert under a quarter moon

to a nice boy who loves guns, but not killing.

Do you hook your trigger finger around his wrist?

Do you slide the barrel of your handgun

along his jaw line?  Do you sleep well?

Does he fill up the spaces between your ribs,

the spaces where the want has settled?

But, it’s easy come, easy go—mostly go

and you want more than he can give you

with an honest job, a house, kids.

You want to feel that gun in your hand—

the call of easy money.

When you run into the mountains dogs nipping

at your high black heels, you want a glass of water,

a hot meal, a shower, a convertible, plane tickets.

You want that gun in your tight fist—

you want to fire your way out.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Amy Schulz has taken eleven consecutive poetry classes with Suzanne Lummis through UCLA Extension, but does not hold the record.  She lives in the Los Angeles area.