to articulate –– for many reasons.
It’s challenging to see a place you love change, to witness pieces of it being abruptly removed day by day. The experiences of erasure, displacement and homelessness are complex. If gentrification were personified, it would be a monster. Towering. Mutilating.
Poets are in a unique position to speak and confront this monster, as the versatility of their craft contains the symbolic qualities of the smooth stone launched into the air, reminding Goliath of his vulnerability.
It is with gratitude to Acción Latina,
El Tecolote, and to the brilliant poets who answered the call, that I present this “¡Gentromancer!” Broadside.
-Josué Rojas –– Artist
Nicole Henares (Aurelia Lorca)
“22nd And Mission”
A halo of mist hovers over the skyline,
a gentle blessing.
I cannot hear the wind
but the statue of an owl stands alert,
its head turning circles to keep away the pigeons.
On the corner is a hollow square,
the ghost of an old building
that has burned down. No longer any trace, just a gaping death hole
next to the smug and unscarred walls
of new condominiums.
“The Righting on La Wall 1.2”
I awaken to the cries
of the mourning dove.
Coo-AHH-roo coo coo
I draw my bedroom curtain open
hoping to see the sky,
to feel the sun,
to dance with the trees.
my view & mind remain clouded
by fog. Pa’ abajo, the mirage
of a mural appears.
The vibrant colors
begin to dance
the dead back to life,
Day by day, spray by spray.
Drama unfolds, righting the wrongs, with images of
the past, those ¡Presente! y el futuro.
They evicted Mia
from her storefront on Valencia
Then they burned down
the apartments on 22nd Street
The good die young and isn’t it a pity
But the beat goes on in Silicon City
You’re a stranger now in your home town
With strange faces on once familiar streets
And strange shadows at four o’clock
And cops strangers on a strange beat
The days and nights are mostly gritty
But hey, it’s ok, you’re hanging in Silicon City
So I’ve been told that
everything that rises must fall
And that the wicked shall be denied
But now a days you don’t know
who to trust
And watch out you don’t get run over by a google bus
It be’s that way all down and dirty
In the heartless heart of Silicon City
Now everybody knows
the center cannot hold
But prophecy is cheat
and politicians are slippery
So baby get your high-heeled sneakers and your black beret on
Because tonight we face the music in Silicon City
I won’t ever STOP Loving Part 3
Big earrings, Big hair, and eyeliner that extends to Ancestry. Goddess love. Queen. Reyna. Fuck the metro card, hop on from the back, and tag your name on the railing,
cuz why not?
Moms texts to pick up some Pan,
but she found a place to bomb.
its hers tonight.
Church is on Sunday, but the can is both her bible and religion.
She misses her brothers.
We all miss all her brothers.
Swine pulls up as she is writing ‘RIP ALEX’. There was a brief exchange of violence.
And she had Bacon in the morning.
we to live?”
When you have bought up all the homes
When you have bought up all the businesses
When the water bill goes up
When the light bill goes up
Where are we to live?
When the family
has all moved away
When our friends
When boyfriends and
girlfriends are no more
If you stay longer
work until your knuckles bleed.
The skyline shows me–
Of resilience dancing,
how you do not
use the word
“Now You’re Just Somebody
That I Used To Know”
I loved exploring every
corner of you,
marveling at your beauty.
It moved me to know you were all mine.
You were a beauty for whom
my love I proclaimed to any audience
that would listen.
Others have seen you
and now want to make you theirs.
They’ve romanced you
and you’ve become what
they want you to be.
They’ve taken you
away from me,
not allowing our love an appropriate end. My heart smiles
at memories of our love.
I grew up with you and
wouldn’t be who I am
had it not been for you.
But my heart breaks when I realize that
now you’re just somebody that I used to know.
‘El Fuego Mágico Gabriel García Márquez Never Wrote About.”
En Guanajuato, las casitas son de colores
rojo, amarillo, orange.
En Guanajuato, Chavela canta,
en San Francisco Chavela llora.
En San Francisco, las casitas queman, rojo, amarillo, orange.
“How to Evict a Family”
The building owner pins his title
“land-lord” as a badge. Declares he
has rights, too. His entitlement, to park
his antique car collection on your face, use your hair to dust the mirrors, let loose
his foaming hound of a mouth within ear shot and in plain sight of your six-year-old
but not his adult son.
The land-lord gets to open doors
and piss in the unoccupied apartment
bathroom, under renovation, despite
unfortunate echos, because two or three
golden toilets in the Victorian, can’t hold his incontinent need for more vats
to place all of his deposits.
Bodies line the
inside perimeter of
coil around and spill onto
Mission towards 25th.
SF Giants boast boldly
from his chest, he scowls under his breath, then outloud,
“WTF! Can’t even get a burrito
in my own fucking neighborhood.
Fucking techies. Fucking buses”
burn his throat like acid reflux.
I tug on his arm, coax him towards
the train. “C’mon baby,
let’s go hit up the taco truck by the lake, or pupusas at Platanos,no wait.”
His shoulders slump under his hoodie.
It’s an odd year in the Bay.
Paul S. Flores
“FOR ALEX NIETO”
Are we gonna bundle up in plastic garbage bags and hoodies,
put up tents with the
homeless of San Francisco,
camp out in front of every
gentro fuck techie coffee shop,
restaurant, food truck lot, start up,
yuppie loft, police station
and interrupt this
white privilege oblivion
till we provoke the chaos
we are living in to spill
into the cash registers and siphon out
the legacy of our
grandparents who built this city
till they all come chasing us
in the streets while we march
for Alex Nieto?
Paul S. Flores
“WE STILL BE”
My homie’s house burned down
and we read poetry in the ashes
We raised some cash and his spirits
With bottles of tequila and coronas
Salted tears to quench harsh throats
We told jokes and Marcus played hard be-bop
My homie wailed for his dog
lost in the smoke of a broken
pilot light induced inferno
Poetry heals, the be-bop revives
Poetry heals and the be-bop revives
We never, we never, we never go softly
into that dark night
“Fish With Ambition
to Become the River”
I looked in my bank account
It said, “you have five toilets to your name.”
It said, “don’t just sit there. Return fire.”
Talking head says, “go to sleep children.
You will all be police tomorrow.”
We say: No. We will be the poor.
Talking head says, “ok scumbags,
I talked to you like children; now you will be dogs”
“About the bus station at 7th Street”
A scruffy man in corduroy coat
And oversized beanie
His tattered cuffs quivered as he laughed
At the small TV set attached to
the arm of the chair
He laughed, cracked up
Even after his time was up
And he was out of quarters
The others rested
Shuffled along the linoleum floor, hands out
It was like that until
The station was closed
The benches are still here
You can sit down and wait
As long as you like
That Greyhound bus
is not coming
No where is home
the end of the line
for a generation with a fleeting home.”
As we unite the world,
we lose our homes.
As we build up villages,
our structures collapse.
As we keep the fire of life ablaze,
their fine print
and signatures create a hell
dressed as heaven.
When it feels like each step we stake
is on quicksand, the earth shakes open
to catch our fall.
In our heartbreak and with broken backs,
we hold on to the light.
Written off but alive with
survival encoded in our genes.
Imprinted generations ago,
alive in all our seeds.
The promise of life renewed each day.
Our survival intergenerationally intact.
Affirmed by the fact that despite their laws,
borders and titles,
our people carry our homes on our back.
Arturo Martínez Cáceres
“ESCUPIENDO AL CIELO”
Alrededor del mundo, con tus botas en el lodo
Mientras en el fuego del hogar,
a tí mismo tu hijo estás mirando
Que las barras y las estrellas
valgan siempre la pena
Y en cualquier parte del globo
se reconozca tu nombre
Son los Sánchez y los Hernández,
los Moreno y los Gonzáles
Los latinos a los que Trump desprecia
Y que son en verdad fortaleza
En una nación de migrantes,
músicos, poetas, héroes,
Constructores, jardineros y mártires soldados
I like organic horchata And Mexican street fruit w a light side of DEET I like my Factory 2 U come ups and supporting handmade homie wares.
The following two poems come to us from
The Beat Within: A publication of
writing and art from inside juvenile hall.
“Avalanche in the San Francisco Bay Area”
Gentrification has affected me badly. My family was forced to move out of state because of the gentrification in my neighborhood. We lived in the same place for 15 years and now since we couldn’t pay what the higher class pays (for rent) we were forced to move.
Sadly, it is not just me, but a lot of my friends and their families were forced to move out of the city, out of the Bay Area too!
Screw this gentrification!
I pray one day
everything will go back
to the way it was.
The upper class need to
relax and stay in the hills.
This is very wrong.
They are trying to push Blacks out of their homes,
where they have lived for years, maybe generations. In order to make a better place for whites, they are trying to raise rents and change the neighborhood to things we don’t like so we’ll stay out. The neighborhood might not be the best, but when they force people out, those people lose connection to their memories, like where they first
learned to drive or where they lit a candle for a friend or family member who passed away. Greedy people don’t understand the things people really lose when they’re forced to leave their homes.