My California by Tomas Nieto

After Lee Herrick


Here, in my California, we name everything
after saints. Our cities and grocery stores
are stamped with holy. Come, light a candle
and bless this house.
When the sun dips
and the tired close up, we raid
the stockpile of goods harvested
from the overgrown ocean floor and the orchards
full of drought. Sidewalks become tables,
stop lights become candles and everything comes
to this feast—you walk in with the poets, seagulls
and sea serenade, and the teachers
bring all of their marvels. We break the ozone
like bread, spread it over fries and eat it down
to the seed of the avocado, to the bottom
of Styrofoam boxes with no plates
and many forks. We talk about blessings
but there are too many aunties to count.
We laugh until our fault lines split
our names into hyphens and we breath
the salt air of the Pacific like it is part of us.
Every mouth eats, every voice speaks,
every belly swells with second chances.
And when everyone is full and the difference
between person and wonder blurs,
we sing to each body lit with this love.

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Contributor Notes

Tomas Nieto is a Filipino/Mexican-American writer from San Diego. He holds degrees from San Diego State University and San Francisco State University and is alumni of Las Dos Brujas and VONA/Voices. His work has appeared in Solstice Literary Magazine, The Rumpus and others.