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2008

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both a place and a scare-word
Oscar Bermeo

By 1981, the Los Angeles Times could declare that the South Bronx was "both a place and a scare-word."

this name I place after my name
when I speak of childhood and flags

an elusive memory following me
around ready to tear me down

easily described as birth certificates
more akin to abandonment on a port of split cedar

firm safety glass rain caught
in the palm of a callous glove

where the evidence of trauma
provides no protection

scarred wax making a music
out of hunger and forget

a village spiraling into
an arena of smoke

recovering from a maelstrom
of newspaper and spit

waking up from the mugging
mistaking blood for dreams

sculpting warning signs
with pieces of a fallen cornice

a crash of bodies like a fuck
filled with benign neglect

culture trapped amidst neglect
in a petri dish of faces