San Pedro: The Place I Live
was once owned by a nice white family–
active members of the PTA
avid square dancers.
So avid, they dug up the garden
replaced it with concrete
and a roof, even ceiling fans
to always dance
and not have to pay hall rentals.
They always danced with their white friends
avoiding booze, cigarettes, and sex
avoiding the improvisation of jazz
and replacing it with good, white fun.
The place I live,
not at the top of the hill,
but far enough,
has an unenforceable covenant on the deed
that says I can’t live here
I knew it was there,
long before I bought the place.
My first house, the one I rent to my brother,
below cost to give him a leg up
is on the base of this hill
below the red line.
I bought that house partly because of Bandini:
the name of the street,
the name of my favorite literary character:
Arturo Bandini: friend to man and beast alike,
the name of a company that sells
hills and hills of bull shit,
the name of the redline splitting this city
between of color and not.
Now, I have to look down to see the red line,
down to see the bullshit line to keep us from them
it’s not enforceable,
but if you look at my neighbors,
it might as well be.
Life up here,
above the redline
like the rigid,
of a square.
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