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"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.

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