31 days of songpoems

*I first heard, “American Girl,” by Tom Petty when I saw Silence of the Lambs. I loved the movie and I loved the song. I’m always a sucker for a good soundtrack. Flash forward to 1999 when I became a citizen inside Staples Center alongside thousands of other immigrants. If I remember correctly, a family friend drove me there since I was living in wretched La Puente at the time. I smoked some weed before going inside. Lots of strange things happened in those few hours but by the end, as everyone waved their stupid American flags in unison—I became a citizen. I didn’t feel anything as the crowd cheered and people cried in the arms of loved ones. I was there alone and I wanted some tacos al pastor. I ate some from a taco truck, smoked more weed and took the bus home. As we floated through the freeway I thought what song could be more fitting on a day like that than, “American Girl. “ 

Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there
Was a little more to life
Somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
Yeah, and if she had to die tryin’
She had one little promise
She was gonna keep
…”


you’re promised a new language and a bike—you get both but at a price

you grow up without much love but plenty of spite

and if we can determine anything with mathematics 

it states that you must work inside parentheses first, 

keep the same denominator—

understand that subtraction subtracted from itself is addition

and if we multiply we end up with more than we can swallow;

even if we’re starving, 

our mouths can only hold so much

small town Los Angeles, 

suburbia helps the increase of stupid human population

no one can keep their legs closed, 

because love, I’ve heard, lives in warm places

and we are all so fucking deficient, we live spread-eagled.

this country is an illusion, 

an allusion of that great speech we quote when we need reminders, 

And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

I turn back, 

and a long road sings her songs 

behind me. 

I look forward, 

and a new song 

begs for mercy.