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September 21, 2022

Coliseum St.

Makeen Yasar
Coliseum St.

You and I, we go way back

My mom grew up on your corners

Right next to Coliseum and La Brea

My grandma always told me they lived up in Baldwin Hills

But their village bordered more so at the foot of the hill’s manors

More fit to call their flat a canopy amidst tropics of apartments

Amidst low hanging trees scattered across jungles

They told me they never liked that name for their corner of the world

I suppose there is something to be said in a name

I always loved your names

Some of my favorite people grew up on your corners:

Crenshaw, La Brea, Leimert, Slauson, Central, Normandie, Adams

Inglewood, Florence, King, Rodeo (before Obama),

Centinela, La Tijera, La Ciénega

My family used to grow up on your corners

Now you can’t find a mailbox holding any of their names

We may have spent some time away

But I find solace in the sea of your streets

The breadth of your claustrophobic lanes

The glare of your chrome wheels on Buicks and lowriders

And in the quiet of your night’s breath

I can see your aura glowing

I can feel your life, pulsing

You are fireworks bursting over churches

Gardens of thyme and rosemary in plots beneath urban murals

Ghetto birds roaring like dragons through misty clouds

Opal bracelets and wood carvings beside herbal teas and sun dresses

You are the masses in the streets

The flowers in the markets

The fire in the barbeque pit

The festivals of soul and the sole filets on every corner

Each corner I am entranced with upon learning their names

But there’s so much in these names

The ones spoken in whispers

The tents that line the alleyways and underpasses

The project survivors fighting off famine and disease

The survivors against violence, visible and unseen

Beaten into the cells of bones and brains

There’s always a fight for life to be found on every corner

And I hear it in the voices they use to tell me their names

I know we are getting to know each other again

But there’s so much more I need to learn from you

So many places to witness

So many places to be nurtured by

So many people to love, and lives to protect

So many things to build upon, and to heal

I am finding my way to belonging on your corners

I suppose it starts by sharing with you my name

Makeen Yasar is an activist, poet, performer, and health care advocate in the Los Angeles area. His writing resonates, celebrates, and speaks to Black resilience, and touches upon themes of loss, youth, belonging, and the moments in between solitude and community. Yasar is winner of the Black Writers Workspace Chapter One Writing Competition, a published finalist of the 'Rise Up' Poetry Contest from Oprelle Publishing, and was most recently published in Black Minds Mag through Black Minds Publishing. A founding member of the nascent artist's collective, Lighthouse Darkroom, Yasar helps to hold spaces centered around creative growth and radical vulnerability for BIPOC, women and femmes, queer, and disabled artists.

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