down the rabbit hole

dim lights barely demystify the smile of strangers
and new faces tempt the curiosity of the regulars,
who are mostly white, unshaven men with
company named baseball caps, singing along
to an outdated, sticky jukebox. others cling
clumsily to the pool table and whisper under subdued
light bulbs to potential lovers, spunky women
with blonde hair and silver jewelry. bartenders
ignore the cockroach that scampers across the
wooden counter and the rush of twenty-one year olds
who glamorize memories of that night.

broad st.

white teenagers cruise by unlocked bicycles
and glowing vintage street lamps, swerving their
cars in circles on the empty intersection at night. the
faster they spin the louder their shrieks echo,
competing with the sound of crickets who
are also chirping for a thrill on broad street.

desperation

an expectation affirmed by memories of
broken, glittered pavements that once led to
fates that promised a happy ending.
we sometimes find treasures in the wreckage–
passionate urges to fold into ourselves
and flirt with addictions that offer us
temporary solace. whether they overwhelm us
or liberate us, we still feel helpless
like those battery-operated puppies
street vendors sell, except the switch is damaged
and we can’t stop our automatic, mechanical legs
from running into the wall.

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.