Friday, April 05, 2013

[Poema 5] East Oakland

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Oakland is my small, tender Beirut
Oakland is my bullet-pocked Baghdad shelter
Oakland is my imaginary Paris with French café and Vietnamese sandwiches

Oakland is the beautiful streetwalkers
Selling their sex
to men who don’t know
how to make love,
satisfying their humanness.

Oakland is the carnival of street vendors,
The dreamwalkers
Selling everything you need
To make life comfortable, tasty,
Tacos, chapurreada, coffee,
tamales, colchas, duritos con chile
y limón, paletas to cool down on hot afternoons at home or at the park

Oakland, where young black men, young brown
men, shoot each other
drive-bys and families broken
life cut down in a violent explosion.

I used to believe I’d never make it past 20
And I am shocked to learn
that young people everywhere
believe they will not make it to 30.

Thirty springs, thirty summers, thirty autumns
do not need to end in thirty winters
The cold of Oakland streets bloodied warm
in youthful blood, old and dead
before my time
Oakland is hope for those who see
a way in.

My city is no more violent than yours
Only Beirut, only Baghdad, only Gaza
Only Los Angeles, only Mexico City, only Kabul
Where ancient civilizations thrive
Where the death of young men and women
Erase the memory of a deep community
Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico and anywhere else there is U.S. war:
You are welcome to relive, to be reborn, in east Oakland

Oakland will become the city of youth eternal
Where becoming old
will be a pleasure among generations
My Oakland is not violent every day
But desperation & pettiness
Become explosion
When armed
When humanity grows out of a barrel
of a gun
of a pipe.

My Oakland is schools, children with adult hope
Families in mourning from deportations
In grief from lost expectations
My city is long avenues, deep boulevards,
Green water, broad spaces to walk
To be, to stride futures
Where everyone lives, works and dies of old age

No more elders at 18
No more deaths at 13
No more hopelessness
Darkness & rings under the eyes banished from my city
my Oakland.
No more guns in hands
meant to
write stories
paint masterpieces
and caress grandchildren,
no more fists
no more grimaces
no more shock
no more grandparents burying grandchildren
no more dropouts in coffins
no more students becoming soldiers
as the only way out:
No more out through death
Only in with life
Only in with life.

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