PAWNSHOP ON ALAMEDA, DOWNTOWN L.A.
Three Latina gangbangers cozy up to the man, his eye
bent to a magnifier. Payday, viejo, they say. They say,
Disgusted with what he has let his Friday lives become,
He mumbles, sweating and trembling, Mañana.
One of the cholas pulls out a real Payday and a .25 caliber
baby popper. She unwraps the candy, gnaws on the end,
and slides the wrapper under the bars. Andalé! Now, pendejo.
The owner takes out his wallet full of California air,
except for the frayed picture of his daughter he holds up
for them to see.
Your fathers have one of these, niñas, he says. Of you.
They hesitate, unsure what to do next, the menace
in their eyes glazed to confusion.
He has bought himself another day.
Gerald So reads "Pawnshop on Alameda, Downtown L.A.":
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Pat confesses: "When my older daughter was a student at USC, an oasis in the depressing desert of Watts in L.A., I had several occasions to visit the area. 'Pawnshop on Alameda' grew out of that experience as well as my childhood in Gary, Indiana."