home    issue 06   

  • David Hilowitz (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What You See, What You Take With You
after Marisela Norte's photographs of Los Angeles

Vickie Vértiz
Cover Photo. Bob Bernal Jr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)


On the Broadway bus with Marisela, her French diamond  lips
Composition notebooks and fancy uñas 

A chola’s drawn-in dragon eyebrows warn us at the Walmart in Pico
In my skin, Jefitos      fade blue on my chest
Donuts and doctors and acrylic tips   tiendas y más tiendas
Open a n d c l o s e d              closing
Closer, chula
                        There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you

We ride by the saddest
            Office in the world
            Brown plastic brides and  grooms on dusty cakes
            The bride’s dresses are cheap but more than  they could      pay
Che T-shirts with m i c k e y m o u s e  ears
He’s a churro  VIP
A lotería hoodie is smothered on a bored gordito
Waiting for his quinceañera sister to hurry UP  ALREADY

Passing ELAC
Femur bones are labeled, their names on masking tape
            El Santo in the seat adjacent
            Sports a modern tuxedo
            Blue boots eroding at the toe            
On Alvarado, Alarma
            Another shot in the head magazine     A woman’s inky blood leaking
                        Onto white tile            eye level for Dora and Diego walking by

One posada morning
            Reindeers and chichis tussle at the panadería cash register
            A baby blonde Jesus plays my pan dulce accordion

On a telephone pole, a bedroom listed for a woman or a señora        you decide
At the butcher, the fat rolls in            electric yellow bra straps        digging into her shoulders
                        Almost home on the bus, our carriage

El Huracán, ese hombre y su morral
LA is triple x huaraches
            Sopping wet pambazos
                        Come closer, chula
                                                            There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you