But on a Friday afternoon,
first real scorcher of the year,
forgiving that January El Niño
aberration, they’re out
and about in the city. In a backyard
the size of an Orange County
bathtub, on the stoop, the sidewalk,
fire escape, passing a blunt
like a baton in a relay race. In the
street, old black mutt wobbling by,
a fresh-faced young mother,
husband at her side, presses an infant
into a minivan window for a final
grandma-grandpa kiss goodbye,
as a hunched old man pushes
his ice cream cart towards
Roosevelt Park, looking to cash
in on the vibe and the heat,
trading cold and sweet
for cold and hard.
Red on the Green
We’re all together here on the Green Line
this morning—Asian, black, white, brown, and all.
The man to my right sports a red knit cap.
In the bike space a man supports a pair
of boxing gloves around his neck, the laces
suspending the red leather mitts. There are
three red backpacks on shoulders, hands, and seats;
there’s a red lunchbox, too. This woman in
a tight red sweater just got off at Harbor
Freeway, maroon bag matching the torn shirt
of the large man asleep and snoring, matching
the ’68 Collegiate Tourist’s frame.
The vintage owner shifts the vintage bike
as needed, off the train and on the platform,
then back onboard. Original black grips
and pedals worn thin, worn black leather seat,
smooth-clicking 5 speed thumb shifter, brass Schwinn
nameplate screwed tight. The fenders steal the show,
polished chrome arcs reflecting LA sun.
Obviously cold and syrupy sweet,
the grown man in the Dodger cap
can’t wait to scoop it up into his mitts,
spoon it up into his mouth, having
stood in that parking lot in the shadow
of the Dollar Tree and the WIC office
and watched those strong little sun-bronzed
hands grip the blade, scrape the solid
block of ice perched on a red cart
beneath a rainbow-pie beach umbrella
to overfill a foam cup with cold shavings,
then ladle one, two, three full splashes
and a little dip, for just a skosh more,
of golden syrup into the golden setting sun
of a late afternoon, late October
in the twenty teens in the high nineties
on Washington Boulevard, downtown LA.
Jeff Nazzaro lives in Riverside and works in West LA. He commutes three hours each way using Southern California’s wonderful public transportation system and swears he loves every minute of it. His poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Ekphrastic Review, Cholla Needles Magazine, ClockwiseCat, and Thirteen Myna Birds.
Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.