Archives for posts with tag: soul music

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Though you may not drive
a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls,
TV antennas in the back . . .
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got

Be Thankful for What You Got,”
William DeVaughn (1974)

THANKFUL FOR WHAT I GOT
by liz gonzález

In my North Town neighborhood,
pit bulls and German shepherds,
trained to kill, jump spiked fences
and crunch Chihuahuas like taquitos.
I carry a big stick when walking Chacho,
my cream and caramel Jack Chi.
We circle a two-block radius,
stuck on flat concrete and asphalt,
stuck seeing the same houses and streets.
Whenever we can, Chacho and I
hop in my ‘95 Toyota Tercel,
and make a quick escape.

We park at the Signal Hill
Home Depot lot,
hike up Skyline Drive,
up the gated community’s
winding paved paths,
past the squeak of bobbing oil pumps.
I’m breathless; Chacho’s ready to run.
We speed walk around Hilltop
Park’s rim and Panorama Drive.
Air swept by Santa Ana winds
reveals Los Angeles high rises
and San Bernardino mountains.
The cobalt blue Walter
Pyramid rises from treetops.
Huntington Beach’s jagged
shore shimmers and froths.
Off the coast of Long Beach,
yachts and freight ships
sail by artificial THUMS Islands.
Behind the Queen Mary,
gantry cranes stand erect,
like metal dinosaurs
ready to do some heavy lifting.

Chacho leads the way on White
Point’s foot-carved trails.
Concrete frames brush, ocean,
and sky in Battery Bunkers’
empty gun encasement.
Salt and sage scent the breeze.
Fennel, that interloper,
waves tiny yellow buds.
A cactus wren feasts
on swollen prickly pear fruit.
Chacho pulls the leash taut
while I stand in awe of the view.
Catalina Island on a fog-free day.
White sunlight rides the ripples.
A lone speedboat
rips the serene surface.

A supermoon illuminates
the Seal Beach boardwalk.
Dusk dabs stuttering clouds
purple-pink. The sinking sun
spills amber honey into lampposts
lining the wooden pier.
Chacho can’t read “No Dogs.”
He runs unleashed, kicking up sand
smooth as a whisper.

After a two or more mile jaunt,
my t-shirt sweat-drenched,
we lounge on Beachwood BBQ’s
dog-friendly patio
in downtown Long Beach.
Chacho nibbles on corn bread.
I sip a pint of craft lager,
eat a small salmon salad—
my version of suds and grub,

and give grace.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Chacho at White Point Royal Palms Beach” (San Pedro, California) by liz gonzález.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: liz gonzález is a fourth generation Southern Californian. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have appeared in numerous literary journals, periodicals, and anthologies. She has poems forthcoming in Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and is the author of the limited edition poetry collection Beneath Bone. liz’s awards include an Irvine Fellowship at the Lucas Artists Residency Program and a Macondo Foundation Casa Azul Writer’s Residency. She works as writing consultant and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her at www.lizgonzalez.com.

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PRINCE’S SELF-PORTRAIT AS MEMORY
by Candace Butler

Never say the words “they’re gone,”
and they’ll come back.

I know you as a different person now:
an ex-lover leaving her reflection
in the mirror after she’s gone…

I’d never seen that before.

Sometimes it’s a curse,
but it’s also a blessing.

You have to remember:
these colors have soulmates
and once you get them all together,
the painting is complete.

I don’t believe in singles
now.

Come to me.

I’m trying to get back to the old days.
I have time.
I have nothing but time.

SOURCE:  Spike Lee interview with Prince (then known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince) in Interview Magazine (May 1997).

IMAGE: “Prince,” watercolor by Design Turnpike. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Candace Butler is a writer, musician, and artist residing in her hometown of Sugar Grove, Virginia — a small town in the mountains of Appalachia. She is an MFA candidate in the Creative Writing Program at Antioch University of Los Angeles (AULA). Find more of her work at candacebutler.com.