Fourth of July in City Terrace

Tiny - Posted on 02 July 2020

At Herbert Circle the view reaches from Eastside to San Pedro, from the Chicano Alps to shores of the North Pacific.

People hurry here from carne asada and weenie grills to huddle in the middle of the street.

To seize from the holiday a way of seeing themselves in their own light.


In anticipation for darkness to come rushing, for the show to begin,

I was early to stand among the crowd.


Following the first explosion from an artillery shell others take flight.

In an instant, night is set on fire.

Forbidden fireworks become sight.

Ground shakes.

Bright, boom, ah inhabitspace.

After just a moment, the wind carries pungent scents of sulfur to every hillside and hole.


The barrio flexes its muscle.

Youths assemble demonstrations, a competition for best in show with a combined sense of mischief and pride.

Parents gleam.

Children cheer from deep in the chest.

And abuelas caution missing fingers, encouraging grandchildren to run away from a hissing fuse.


Roman candles.

Piccolo Pete’s.


Buzz grenades.

Fire crackers.

Cherry bombs.


Sticks of dynamite.


Rockets rage.

Night sky filled with deafening thunder in hues of red, purple, green.

Blinding light.






Not from cops.

Not because of ICE.

Not tonight.

Not on the 4th of July in City Terrace.


Following the show, we applaud the effort with full expression.

Some people whistle.

Others watch smoke figures retreat into the clouds, etching shapes of light in memory, storing sounds of pride for other times.

Kids promise parents to take part next year.

Elders slowly retreat, looking over their shoulder for one last blast.

And I, peering over the city from an ancient hillside, wish for an encore.

Silence ensues.

The Eastside is now, for a moment, all calm.





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