The Death of West Washington

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.

Warm smiles

Were replaced with stone,

Corporate brows.

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,

Unknowing—

Gypsies and hippies expelled from a home.

A home of a forgotten square with so much sparkle

The mom-and-pop,

The free spirited,

Now…

Vanished.

However,

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.

Gentrification.

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.

The death,

Of West Washington.

Gentrification.

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.

The birth,

Of Abbot Kinney.

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