Mario Canto

The City I Live in

                                       The City I Live in

Completely barren
Death stalks love
Smog clogged skies
And tramps, leaned outside of windows of automobiles

All the stores closed at 10’ O’clock
Boarded up houses, chipped cement, graffiti walls, and all the business buildings need a paint job
There is nothing to be proud of-
As a Brown woman walks across the street with all 6 of the kids the county is taking care of

As I see us going home,
I want to cry
As I watch us slave and be content,
I want to die-
And wonder where have all of our backbones gone

Watching us waste equality with the role of a dice
With the drinking of liquor and the drugs that entice
I get resentful
I even begin to dislike my people-
For laughing at Malcolm X’s death and destroying Martin Luther King’s dream

We are a deceitful people here
Lying to everyone including ourselves
As we cover up the scars with nice clothes and fast cars
Claiming were all different
When our hate, is the same

I could feel the negative energy as I walk pass my people
And once I look at them its official
Labeling anyone with an identity a joke-
I could only smile and walk away

The women, not women
Femininity, ran away
Kindness, a game of horse shoes
Appearance, everything
Soft hearts petrified diamond hard because a woman loves diamonds

And

The men, feminized-
Too damn afraid to be men-
Bitch-made
Chasing after women, with a Oedipus complex
And bourgeois
Whether in a place of business or relaxation
A lack of focus
A lack of respect
And an approval of indecency

Where has our pride gone
Our sense of history
Our origin
And most inherently our standards
Old and young alike have lost all hope
You could see it in people’s eyes
Find it through people’s action
While one has to ask, “Are all the leader’s dead?”

My generation
Guys with sagging pants, long chains, baseball caps, diamond studded shoes, and rhinestone—shades
Ladies, tight shirt, tight pants (almost painted on), tight everything… well almost
All fun and games
But no real dreams, only the one’s we were taught to have

And as the world kicks us on the behind, we will be looking up to the Cosmos in bewilderment-
Wondering, where have we gone wrong

Most go to church but share no compassion
We don’t love because we’re afraid to love
We don’t get sad but angry-
And everything else is buried under money-
When what we really need is self expression

Is this the limit to our greatness?
Out of all of them, all of our father’s cells… why you?
Once that is recognized, once that is realized
We will have wished we could turn back time and hang our heads in shame

This place
Where everyone thinks there better than someone
As if granted by grace to become a saint-
But only increase this world’s sufferings

Where the poor are objectified as poor
Dubbing them homeless rather than human beings
As people smash burgers into their mouths-
While ketchup and mustard drips down their chin,
I observe how we feel obligated
As if we have done something righteous with our lives, or even the day for the most part

Exhaust pipes, cigarette buds, blood stained knives,
and doctored lips dipped in gasoline, and the making of orgasms
As you throw that match
Let it all burn
For the truth is in front of you

As that night saunters
And you’re standing there before that bonfire
Looking into those memories-
The sun, moon, and the stars will retreat

In the City I live in
The sky lacks color,
And so does the life
And at its funeral… it shall be mourned in silence
. . . Los Angeles…


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