it took about three hours to get to Los Angeles Street

from Mission Avenue

with its grandiose blocks of junked cars

guys who waved flags like bull fighters

funneling you into their driveways

to get your muffler fixed for $75

i thought about Hemingway’s story

looking down at the dirty greased earth

wondering why i wasn’t dead that afternoon

trying to find the lesson or the meaning

of that certain event in my life

my body hurt

the concrete was harder than i had ever remembered

the worn sole of my one right Chinese girl shoe

mouthed slowly at every step i’d take

as it “peeoed-peeoed” at me

like baby birds demanding food

i thought of my left shoe

it became a casualty

strewn under a fire escape at Werdin Place

i imagined my shoe there

embalmed with bum urine and cigarette ash  

never really felt self-pity

until that moment

my one black sock

still on my left foot

i stank like Camels and latex

i was dirty all the way

deep into the marrow

i consoled myself

tearing the bandages from my throat and my left ring finger

the bandages caused me to admit defeat

worst yet


i sat on the curve of Sunset and Spring St.

to cry amongst the scent of taquitos and Peking duck 

knock knock knock bang bang bang

“Ay! I goingg, cheeett!” said a husky voice from behind 303

“Ciao, Taino,” i whispered

“Ave Maria! Niňa, what happen to juu?! Alvaro, Alvaro! Cojeme el first aid kit!” tisked Taino

“I’m good doll. I just took a little beating late last night. I’ve already seen the doctors,” i explained

Taino dressed in a paisley green red and gold muumuu

ignored my answer

heavy mocha hands gently pulled and tugged

at the hoodie full of blood

his thick long red taloned fingers

negotiated with my bruises

fussing over me

Taino’s fiery short red bob

swooshed back and forth

past his round jowls

right below the heavy rouge line

he ordered his friend

to go get dragon won ton soup

Gatorade and ginger ale right quick

while Taino spoon fed me

he would rattle on

about simpler times

in the Puerto Rican mountains 

about his mother’s cuisine

after a long day at work

Taino would look at me tenderly

eyelids thickly lacquered  

blue shadow and black fake eye lashes

akin to window awnings

while he lined me

i’d caress his thick indigenous cinnamon face

that is why i named him Taino

“O.k. niňa vamos a dormir now mi reina.” he whispered in my ear

as he spooned me

telling his roommate Alvaro

not to answer the “gatdam” door to anyone

“Taino, do you believe in God?” i remember slurring

“Oh, si mami, claro.” Taino agreed in a hush

“Taino, is your mom happy you are like a woman? I am Taino, I love you,” those words crawled

out of my mouth

“Ay niňa, so many questions,” i could hear him sighing

a million miles away