Bruise (Bakersfield)

The soft wound opens at dawn,
tell me morning ruin is riotous, especially in dry heat.
Bakersfield tempered these shaken limbs at night,
Inferno spit on a valley, on a sensible chain of events,
From waking up, existing, doing it all over again, a tender pain hums for my city.

I’m not the same when California calls me bronzed child,
Or something with a bitter tongue, Spanish infused,
Wicked on fissure and earth.

I insist, I brush up on my history,
From these grapevines ensnaring memory,
From mountains cracked, split and burned,
Through time we were rushing into a golden era,
Before, before I must brush up on what is needed,
To remember what we were before.

And if Bakersfield could sweet talk its way out of its faded image,
It would say many things, lies come easy to sweet dripping flame, charred,
Down the back of our easy giving to a place we can love and hate at the same time,
But always call home, come home to, dust in bruised arms.



I learned to pray in my city.
Talk out and spit out a storm of dream and dirt,
When a wave of fire call to me, I say I grew up resilient.
Spit up and talk out the ravaging embrace of summer,
Down a river, Kern lulls out my love,
Only slightly, I’ve seen its woods, how good it could be,
In a simple seed, the California poppies come singing,
I have no time, burn daylight up, in a city where air,
Could give me a bit more poison in my blood,
Call this rage another kind of passion,
If a kiss would resist my urge to see LA once again,
An ocean darker than I am.
Bakersfield, grew in me, like bones twisting out ancestors and their useless limbs,
Where I could disfigure who I was to become something better,
A bit like talking out what misuses you,
Spit out a friction you had yet to feel inside yourself,
Manifest when the smog comes to choke up your only sense.


Mateo Lara is working toward a degree in English Literature from California State University, Bakersfield. He is proud to be Mexican-American, learning to embrace and find who he is inside its history, language, and culture. His collections of poetry, La Futura Tuga and X, Marks the Spot, are available on Amazon, and his poems have been featured in The New Engagement and Orpheus.