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First Street, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
Photo by Laurie Avocado (CC BY 2.0)

Growing up in Boyle Heights,
In the east shadows of the Angel’s lights,
Where the nights are sparked by bullets’ flights,
And every street is claimed by a gang’s gunfights.

Where boys and girls die young so they’re living fast,
Numb their fears and pain in smoke of glass,
Inking tattoo tears every drive-by blast,
Most never see the light, just shadows cast.

All the girls grow up robbed of childhoods,
Pressured to spread their legs for teen motherhood,
Stay single moms, their babies’ dads never stood,
Left to raise their child as best they could.

So life’s cold cycle circles. We all need to pay the rent,
End up slaves to that check from a racist government.
State-raised, state-owned, upstate get sent,
In the dirt or washed up is where all the real men went.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Eric Garcia is a poet incarcerated in California.