By Raymond R. Beltran
Give me the streets, the concrete streets
any day. I’ve paid high prices to be in touch,
in touch with curls, black curls and
brown heads gleaming at the rising sun,
gleaming through housing projects in The Dip.
Black-fisted murals, black eagles encircled in red flags,
give me the streets, the poor contrast,
colorless streets, where green outshines the gloom.
The green of bling bling, big bodies
rollin on twenty inch chrome blades, making
that hustle through Little Africa.
Why don’t you go ahead and give me Sundays,
those Euclid Ave Sundays in front of Fam Mart,
the ride or die, do or don’t, watch me … nah fuck that!
Picture Me Rollin mentality.
We do anything nowadays to take our minds off reality.
I want that bus stop in front of Federal Ave,
Nubian Queens with vestiges of royalty in their beauty,
y mis mujeres, dry chocolate tone, indigenous nose,
tight eyes of experience, and about five little hijos behind,
holding their own.
Give me the wisdom that Kwame walks among,
selling the best incense on the block
ready to talk for a while, fighting the power, mighty icon
of this black and white collage, like
a movie that was filmed way before my time.
Give me the holy ghost through choir harmony
coming from the Light of the World,
watching the streets through a cracked windshield,
praising my own providence, bumpin Lucy Pearl,
and by all means give it to me with some sense of soul.
Pinch me off a piece of cotton candy
from long, golden brown, sweaty stems of swollen feet.
I’ll pay three dollars. If you ask me, that’s cheap,
a bit too cheap for the conquest of El Norte.
The taste of a tired nation is … what they call it?
Give me that hop scotchin, hip hoppin, b boppin
I’ll take this hip hop renaissance back in time and
bring back rhymes of Solitary Reapers and beauty inside.
If I can have now, I can find reason in rhyme, and
give it back to you on a platter in a pink box with a bean pie.
Maybe you can give me the mural of a white Jesus
on a wall that street warriors dare to decorate with words of hate.
Or maybe you can give me that tired old black man’s blow horn.
He’s been standing all life long and ready to return home,
dying for you to realize the brass tone of the feet of our lord.
Give me the streets, please, from Imperial up Euclid.
I’ll take all of it, tough looks, ho’s and crooks.
Let me have that seven deuce caddy with
three wheels laid tilted on a sugar daddy.
I will take those golden brown, bald heads packed in a Regal,
maybe a sign of defeat, but …
Give it here.
Raymond R. Beltran is from San Diego, California. He graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in English and has been a contributor to La Prensa San Diego and a member of the former Red CalacArts Collective. “From Imperial, Up Euclid” was included in a self published chapbook From Imperial, Up Euclid and Other Poems with the help of Calaca Press in 2002. The audio version of this poem was produced by Brent E. Beltran in 2004.