This is original poetry that I am fortunate to have published in The Truth About the Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction, Vol. I No. 1
You can purchase the book here.
“The Death of West Washington”
Pushers and beggars,
Clustering on littered streets
Hunched over in the blistering heat
Eyes cast low, hunting for their next fix
Bloodshot eyes with veins like hairline cracks
On a broken and deserted sidewalk.
Sanctuary for gypsies,
Stomping grounds for the traveling artist,
Careful stories told on each brick wall
Spray painted tales of broken dreams and lost hope
“West Washington,” they called it:
A one mile tucked away alley
In the beating heart of Venice Beach.
A paradox, a nexus of power and loss
Grunge and graffiti
Charm and character
So much dark, and yet incredible light
Shone through every crack and crevice
Of this once hidden gem
Undiscovered and raw with an unapologetic beauty.
A young, wide-eyed child dare not veer south of Santa Monica.
And yet the energy of this place
Took me by the hand and lured me into
A strange and unfamiliar crows,
The vibrancy of the streets and of the sweat stained faces
Of the moments, drenched in story and culture
Brought with it an intimacy from which I never recovered.
This playground, nursery and fairy tale
Of colors, laughter and truth
Bore her soul to me,
Asked me to stay a while,
To call her open arms and her warm chest home
But this home would not last.
Were replaced with stone,
A 20-year hole-in-the-wall cafe
With bubbling laughter and whistling espresso machines
Was replaced with sterile, minimal boutiques
Overpriced items, undervalued employees
And cold glances from every corner
Every shade of black and brown replaced with stark white
Like a cluster of birds flocking west,
My special place was commodified into an artsy enclave,
A capitalist pursuit, a string of puppets
Pulled by an invisible hand.
Weeds tugged from the earth
Replaced with green succulents and prickly cacti
Graffiti demolished from walls
Replaced with painted murals
Where tourists stand and pose with false smiles
Quickly turning stern once the flash captured.
A jungle gym for young students
Herding coffee shops
Premium auburn water
Costly for the cup.
Sit on fancy machines,
Fixated on a screen
Fingers like jabbing woodpeckers pestering on trees.
Studying fine arts and history books
An ironical locus
For history rests before their innocent eyes,
Gypsies and hippies expelled from a home.
A home of a forgotten square with so much sparkle
The free spirited,
A sliver still lives
On corners and outskirts of the field.
Prayerful that a highbrow will invest,
Hand-crafted arts and knacks
Sold outside of brunch spots.
Craft cocktails and minuscule portions
Paired with fabricated whispers of entrepreneurs.
Festivals, food trucks and flea markets.
Grins from housewives strolling blue-eyed babies,
A community gathered.
The paradox lives on;
Like a pepper-tree—
Strong and sturdy from the outside
Wish sagging and lifeless roots
Forgetting how this playground started.
Like a lotus grows from dirt,
This contemporary pavement sprouted from mud,
Muddy dreams of the impoverished
Blossoming into a tech-boomers haven
Nooks and crannies for pupils to cram information they will soon forget
A wilting lotus.
In it comes a death.
The death of beatnik hippies snapping fingers to the hum of the moonlight,
The death of tents as cozy dwellings,
The death of an intermixing society,
Thriving off abstract notions
Of philosophies and art.
Of West Washington.
And in it comes a birth.
The birth of hustling cafes—
Marketing tea leaves that are grown in distant places
Promoting dishes with exquisite flare.
The birth of a new art—
Renowned artists etching into walls
Making claim to their chichi home.
The birth of an upscale, white region.
Of Abbot Kinney.