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A Real Clean LA (Extended Free Verse to Commemorate my 26th Year)

Okay, so here it is:

I've worked in a real office with real doors for a year.

I've decided I am not professional.

I like wearing sneakers with my trousers,

And I like to get personal.

I say FUCK at minor afflictions,

And I am not sorry people can hear me.

I am not sorry about any of it, actually.

When I walk with my head down, I'm only looking at my shoes...


As I go on to write the most dismal thing you've ever read.

Last year, I was soft. This year, I am cynical.

Let me begin with an ode to all the worst things:

I hate the color of the sky when it's muggy out.

I hate the way the city smells after the polluted rain.

I hate unpaid breaks that aren't long enough to eat.


I hate that rent costs are rising, and there are tents everywhere.

I hate that all my shoes are too big, and it's my fault.

I hate that there's a drug den across the street from me.

And I hate sweating at the armpits during meetings...

Okay, so here it is:

As much as I complain, I live here.

Here's the big blue sky,

And the city bank that touches the moon on 8th Street,

And the potholes that opened up from the rainwash,

And a picture of me dream-sweeping through The Broad.

The truth is that I secretly love you.

I am doing everything I can to be with you.

I have thought about leaving, running away.

But every time I've tried, I just end up in the living room

Where all my stuff is...

I wonder about retirement age While chatting with Patricio, my elderly driver, About the recent rain in Los Angeles. We joke that it has washed the city clean of Not-brave locals. That means we are the resilient ones. All the rest are moving deeper into the desert So that they'll never have to change their tires again. I ask him why he continues to live in Los Angeles, Thinking in my head that he could finally rest Maybe in Colorado or somewhere cheaper. I personally cannot imagine still working at such a ripe age, But He says he built his happiness here, And it would take a lot to scare him away from it…

How do I hold myself still during these trying times?

Other questions with unclear answers:

Is the universe finite?

And will I get this job?

How many genes are implicated in height?

Will my hair become curly again later on in life?

And can I write good poetry when I'm so time poor?...


I have not lost all the things that make me, me.

I am bubbly as ever—I am sure.

I am more than just what I make in dollars.

And I matter even if I clock in late.


Not religious as in religious,

But religious as in

I hear music in the beat of heels clacking down the hall.

Not religious as in religious

But religious as in

I swear my boss’s car sings a hymn when it reverses.

Not religious as in religious

But religious as in

I meditate on some type of truth while unpacking back-stock.

Not religious as in religious

But religious as in

I am pious for giving eighty hours of my life to only get back three in PTO.

As in, when the office is busy, I groan and say OH MY GOD.

As in, I process into a virtual pew during all-team meetings.

As in, I pray for this shift to be over…

I believe in life, still. There is meaning in every email I write. Why? Because I don’t care about etiquette— I am here to make people giggle In spite of the day. Please. Let me be myself. I promise we will be better for it. Let me sign off by saying HAND IN HAND. I promise we will be better for it… There are these sweet moments on the clock When no one passes by the desk. Sometimes, these moments last for hours. That is when I feel most myself at work. A privacy screen hides that I am writing poetry And penning messages to tell my colleagues I care for them Using office appropriate vernacular...

On a random morning, I elect to come into work late. I am not ready to dress as an employee yet. Images of the office imploding come to mind But I shoo them away. Once, I was told that a job can survive without me. That broke my heart when I was younger Because I wanted to be important. I am older now. Without being able to specifically describe what has changed, I can live with being negligible to the grand scheme. Walking with my lover off the clock, We go past the lawn of a Filipino household. Elders are gathered around Speaking God knows what in Tagalog. I remember my own elders doing this in the barrio, too, A couple years back when I visited home. In that world, the fat of living was just being together Sharing space and wasting time. We thoughtfully observe. We are pleased to come to the conclusion That the machinery is escapable. We don't always have to run away to do it. We must simply slow down.

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