Saturday, April 27, 2013

Skid Row: City of Angels

Can you tell me
Can you tell me
Can you tell me

When the wind blew,
were you there?

Los Angeles. City of angels. Dirty angels. Broken angels.
Angels pushing shopping carts
Angels shooting up in dark alleys
Angels getting lost in the
of neon signs.

Live nudes. Live Angels.
Open your eyes.

Pastor Johnny cries, "Lord give me an education cuz I'm lackin!"
And in true Skid Row fashion
tells me how he was saved
by a little girl who told him,
"Jesus still loves you,"
as he lay on the curb
outside a church
coming down from last night's high,
doing anything to just get by.

And I started seeing Jesus in the faces
of addicts in the corners
and hard to reach places
avoiding my eyes
souls crying to be loved
and accepted
feet and hands calloused
from years on the street,
hardships, brick walls everywhere they meet,
lacking grace, lacking faith.

Angels with clipped wings
fell to Skid Row
having only enough courage
to find the next dealer
on the corner of San Juan and San Pedro.

My homeless friend Omar says, "Can we pray?"
So the five of us grab one another's hands, push beer bottles out of the way,
stepping over the used needles,
around the blood stained curb,
behind us a man in a wheelchair smokes rock,
a woman yells at us for being on her block,
sirens pierce the night,
police lights shine down the street
and the five of us stand in the alley,
and cry out to God for one another,
for Skid Row.

Blessed are the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering,
and pay no heed to the murmurings of this world. (Thomas Kempis)

I wrote that poem sometime between 2009, when I first visited Skid Row, and 2012.
My heart dwells in the inner city.

If you are in the Phoenix area, I will be performing my poetry at 8th Day Coffee and Culture off 2nd Street and Roosevelt on First Friday, May 3rd. I will be performing sometime between 8 and 11pm, so feel free to come, grab a fair trade coffee, check out the art, and listen to some hope-filled performances. You can click the picture below to check out their website, and be sure to add them on Facebook!
*photos on Skid Row taken by Brandt Russo  

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