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Five Poems the Next Mayor Should Read





Words of Fire, the Frying Pan’s new poetry section debuted this week with a series poems the new mayor should read.

These five poems by some of L.A.’s finest poets are intended to help Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti look closely at our city and listen with care to its diverse voices, from janitors to sidewalk fruit sellers to donut shop insomniacs. They are also an antidote to the platitudes of the campaign trail, and a reminder that the best political speech – and acts – can tap into people’s deepest emotions and aspirations.


A Model of Downtown Los Angeles, 1940


The oldest Mercedes in California adorns

the crowded foyer of the L.A. County Museum

of Natural History, and babies shriek like bats

in the elevator that lowers my daughter

and me to the basement….

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Each Fall


As dawn breaks through the crimson curtains,

you rise, kiss Amá goodbye, the only time

I see you do this, drive away,

circles of dust and tire marks remain….

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Dear American people, I’ve just got

to talk to you about your government.

You are the government,

the way we are the earth and sky….

Read full poem



Midnight Special (The Donut Inn)


It’s late, so the late

Karen Carpenter comes off

the radio at 1 a.m. The diners

complain; she’s passé, she’s so


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Maintenance Engineer Part Time


after the long day’s hustle, Papa returned

home waving fistfuls of Tootsie Rolls, wolfed down

his supper, changed from his suit into his long-sleeved

gray coveralls or blue cotton smock and slid out of

silky stockings and Italian leather loafers….

Read full poem

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