awaiting change

while standing on the edge of a mountain,
its stone paths as flat as the moon’s,
i look down and search for something
marvelous. of course, the mountain itself
is marvelous and so are the trees
that hug its base and the winds
that whisper song lyrics to the birds,
birds that are marvelous.

still searching and anticipating
serendipity, there is silence.
i try to drink these images, but instead
they replay a montage with the same image in different
shades of sepia—and then i remember that i can’t
refill a cup that’s already full.


the uncontrollable steaming of
molten rock releases confined exasperation,
cracking charcoaled, ashened lips–
the breaking of civility.

an announcement of an ignorant truth.
no quiero vivir como tú, má.

the air suffocates thirteen year old me,
but i narrow my eyes even harder.
tensions heighten and my eyes soften
like the dimming of a glaring sunlight
on a stained glass window.

mother drops the plastic plates she
had been washing all afternoon,
turns off the faucet
and my legs wobble. she wipes her
soapy hands on her thighs,
and i inhale sharply, bracing myself
for an earned slap.

she leaves.
a raw, cutting quiet to the end
of a storm.

no quiero vivir como tú, má: i don’t want to live like you, mom.


there is a narrow set of two flights of stairs, open to the public. crammed between a law office and the local spa, this entrance is easy to miss. at the bottom of these flights, i see the dull gray paint peeling off the stairs, and a screen door that separates the two. i climb up the steps and on my right, there are several rectangular, black mailboxes patched with rust. the screen door, always unlocked, is usually propped open by a rough, gray brick. at the top of the steps, there is a faded burgundy carpet that floors a large room. there are 5 apartments here. i walk to the left.

my first time here, i had trouble finding which was mine. there are no numbers by any of the brown, wooden apartment doors. the bottom door latch doesn’t work. the landlord, an old man with the whitest sneakers i’ve seen in a while, assures me that he’ll get it fixed.

we walk inside, and i am in awe. my first apartment.

the living room and kitchen are only separated by a rectangular island near the kitchen window. above there are cupboards, nice cupboards, ones that fully close and are sturdy. the bathroom is attached the kitchen, and our rooms (for my roommate and i) are joined to the living room.

the landlord is speaking, something about needing to fix something in the bathroom. i nod while observing the carpeted floors and wooden furnishings. i hear him say, let me show you the rooms, and i follow.

he shows me a large room, with a long window on its north wall, and a small closet that is closed by a white curtain and metal shower rings. this impresses me, and i imagine my dresses hanging inside the closet, with my twin sized mattress nestled beside the window.

we leave the room and go to the other one, and i feel my eyes widen with excitement. this room is much smaller, with no closet, save for a wooden pole horizontally stuck to wall. but the windows, they are so beautiful. three large window panels are attached together, on the far eastern corner of the room, overlooking the roads below. i tell the landlord it’s beautiful, and he supposes it is.

a little surprise

on stop signs, underneath the word “STOP”, there are black and white bumper stickers that say “GENTRIFICATION”. the stickers appeared shortly after the small, plaster-colored RVs, the young pale men with long, scruffy beards, and the white women with ray-ban sunglasses and birkenstocks arrived. they often ride colorful cruiser bikes and loosely lock them outside of small shops that sell paintings, antiques, books, and other latin american goods. our guests don’t seem to notice the stares of middle-aged hispanic men sitting on brightly graffitied benches—instead, they talk amongst themselves and take pictures of murals that depict la virgen de guadalupe and skeletons dancing with sombreros on their skulls, some wearing pink folklorico dresses.

there are more mariachi groups playing on saturdays in our community’s outdoor rotunda, which at one point was empty for months, the inside of it used by the homeless as a spacious bed. the discolored white, almost yellow rotunda seems more beautiful and lively now. the upbeat mariachi songs and the augment in attendees wearing large canon cameras around their necks seemed to have illuminated the once ignored rotunda. sometimes, outside the rotunda, there are now street vendors selling apparently self-beaded rosaries and self-weaved, vibrant satchels that feature a little house, fish, tribal designs, or mayan hieroglyphics, among other goods they deem handmade.

there was also a flyer that encouraged people who wanted to live in downtown L.A., the supposed heart of Los Angeles, to look for residency in our community—we are close by, have a rich latin culture, and have inexpensive living costs compared to downtown’s. when we heard the obnoxiously loud machinery of construction taking place, we had assumed low-cost apartments were being built, which usually happens, instead of the chic lofts that now tower over our homes.

i don’t think many of us can afford live in the lovely lofts others would lust after. i’m afraid the cost of living will go up and that our community will no longer be ours, but will instead belong to our visitors. the memories of our streets, our shops, our neighbors, and our childhoods would only be persevered in photographs, the possibility of coming back to relive them, gone.