angry poetry corner: "los angeles" by traci kato-kiriyama

We're getting poetic up here. It's time for another installment of Angry Poetry Corner, a regular weekly spotlight on the work of API poets -- not necessarily angry -- curated by Cara, our Angry Asian Intern. Because you could use a little more poetry in your life.

In the corner this week, a poem by Traci Kato-Kiryama:
Los Angeles - 1


This city is not obvious
It is not pretty, either

You may not parachute here
and land in amiable loveliness

For that, you will have to be
dropped off elsewhere

Pick a different metropolis
in the states

San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle,
New York, of course New York

Pick anywhere else
if you want easy or logical or sensible

If you desire accessible strolls or subways
from one neighborhood to the next

Ones where you don’t constantly feel
like the lone asshole crossing the street

You can, I believe,
at just about any time of day or day of the week

Go anywhere else and walk alone in the glory
of that particularly architecturally beautiful city

I experience splendor there in those places
my eyes dancing up and down with wonder

Full of people watching, never having to actually
speak to a one, just look and walk among them

It is, some say, all they could ever want and need
and if you agree, I say

Go there
Remain there if it is most comfortable for you

Or if you must
Or if you really want to try

You can come here
You can stay a while with our lady

You can not just visit
You must actually stay for a time

You will need wheels
You will need a map

You will need an intrepid spirit
You will need patience and time

And most of all
And, trust me, thank goodness for this part,

You will need

Los Angeles is not a stand-alone city

It is not in itself a jewel
It stands on the shoulders of its gems

The ones who know this city well enough
to explain the difference to starry-eyed tourists

The ones who can traverse a hipster scene and spot
the few raised in L.A. and the thousands who are not

The ones who know this city is a place that gnaws at
souls until they crack, just to see if they can take it

The ones who fight with the jaded for all they perpetuate
to fit this city and themselves into small silver screens

The ones you need to seek out and identify
if you are to survive past two days without traps

Those who are looking out for you as you are searching
for them, but you have to really mean it

The searching, that is
And once you are willing to work that hard

Then suddenly you find the gems who love you back
and loving this city becomes easy

Trust me
traci kato-kiriyama, a multidisciplinary artist, spreader of joy, and all-around badass, is off soon to Toronto to play the part of "Blackberry" in the world premiere of "Hiding Words (for you)" at the Harbourfront Centre in Canada...will be reading this piece while out there, just as she does wherever she goes with her book of poetry, signaling. She's already excited to return for the final shows of the Tuesday Night Cafe season, for which she serves as director; to keep touring PULL: Tales of Obsession with stage partner and ever-aerial Kennedy Kabasares; and to teach a new course, "Wellness and the Asian American Community" for the Claremont Colleges in the Fall. She loves the coffee, the kitties, the fighters and the haters of eggs (but that's another story...)

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