In 1964
(Louie Pérez)

In 1964, you could see the Sears Towers on
Olympic Boulevard from anywhere in East L.A.

It stood guardian like over rivers of concrete
that pointed eastward toward Boyle Heights,
and the then green hills of City Terrace

Crayola colored stucco houses where Mexicanos
took their residence long ago ran up those hills

Behind flapping screen doors a million moms
rolled buttered tortillas and gave Kool-Aid to their
kids as they ran out the door to play in the dust

We chased watermelon trucks in the summer time
or ride the Kern Bus for a dime to the
Chicano Miracle Mile, Whittier Boulevard, to
watch movies at the Boulevard Theater

We saw The Three Stooges In Orbit there,
on the screen Moe hit Larry,
in the lobby Lencho hit Rudy
and we all ran out to squint in the sun

We'd lie on the convertible sofa on hot nights
with the door wide open to catch a breeze and
hear Dad's same old stories about the war, monsters,
and Uncle Manuel's operation to remove a splinter
that grew to the size of a small tree

Every Mother's Day he'd buy Mom these sweaters
that she'd rewrap and put away, just to keep
wearing the tattered orange one she wore on
her migration from Colorado to L.A. in 1922

My Grandma Cuca didn't speak any English,
so she'd sit and watch TV with the sound turned
down and make up her own plots, her best
friend was a guy she called "Gunsmoke"

Life never seemed or wanted to change in that
little white house on Hammel Street,
with its decorative iron and mosaic of
plant pots sitting on the porch rails

There was always this thing about East L.A.,
born of the earth and risen up, not unlike the
San Gabriels we'd occasionally see when the
wind blew the smog down through the valley,
surrounding us in the mystery of who we were
and where we'd come from

It was something that we couldn't see, but we could feel,
something that we couldn't hear but resonated in our bones

And in the roses and rosaries and the damp
smell of beans boiling, a sad happy forever spun
all around us and held us to its breast

So click your heels all you want Delores,
you can never go home, but sometimes
you can strip all away, make it all go away

And in that only free space of paled memory,
in that oneness of space, time and spirit,
we tumble through the universe back into those warm
sweatered arms again, it's then that we can all go home