"DTLA" by Nikolai Garcia
I am the heart. My alleys
filled with rats and love-
letters written with aerosol
paint. My mornings
are anxiety. I let the homeless
mingle with elites and at 5 PM,
I vomit onto freeways. I dress up
my history for visitors, putting on
costumes for tourists--speaking
a little Spanish, serving them sushi.
I keep a library in my chest; I read
every book, and know the score
to every basketball and hockey game.
My nights are a tip jar full of dirty
dollars; a greasy slice of pizza laying
next to a drunk cell phone in an Uber
waiting for another passenger.
I wear a crown of smog. I valet
a million cars and speak
every language. I am the heart.
*Previously published in Conchas Y Café zine, Vol IV, issue 2, 2018
Nikolai Garcia sleeps in Compton, CA, works with homeless youth in East Hollywood, and is Assistant Editor for Dryland, a literary arts journal born in South Central Los Angeles. He has been published in various literary journals, as well as in the anthologies: The Coiled Serpent (Tia Chucha Press), Extreme (Vagabond Books), and No Tender Fences. His first chapbook, Nuclear Shadows of Palm Trees, was published in 2019 by DSTL Arts.