Favorite Poem: Mark Chiang

by Shessu Foster

HOW TO GET THERE: downhill from the jail where deputies in training formation, stragglers staggering up past the school where we played football on the lawn, down the avenue behind Plaza Market, “The Wall That Cracked Open”-Willie Herron painted faces of the afflicted breaking through the walls of oppression after Johnny (his brother, in my class) was beaten by gangbangers-to the intersection where, years later, I crashed Priscilla’s car into a truck that ran the red light, the little Honda jumping into the air like a poodle, spraying out an arc of glass, rubber stripping, and chrome fittings; there, years before the library was turned into a laundromat, years earlier, past the gas station (burnt down, bulldozed), apartments & dusty narrow shops, in the old days when people went to the “Farmer’s Market” (replaced by St. Lucy’s), then across the freeway overpass where the motorcycle cop hides out in the morning; a right past the on-ramp, down into the factory district where I walked the railroad tracks with my bloody hand wrapped up in my t-shirt, 12 years old and I wanted revenge for everything they were doing to us, smashing out all the windows I could in the envelope factory, smashing out every window I could until my fist was lacerated to the bone, and I wrapped it up and walked, 12 years old, bleeding through my shirt through the heat waves on the railroad tracks in the flat hot smoggy sun of all those years: AND WHERE ARE YOU?

[Selected by Mark Chiang, author of The Cultural Capital of Asian American Studies: Autonomy and Representation in the University. “It only gives a small indication of the extraordinary range and astonishing juxtapositions of Foster’s language, not to mention that it incites some intense LA nostalgia for me.” From City Terrace: Field Manual.]
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