A potato famine, an old rickety boat, a great teal lady
A new opportunity, a chance for rebirth
The Great White North, Polaris
But a different kind of Polaris, a star of hope, not direction
A Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, with loons galore
A place of Wild, Twins, and Vikings, a Scandinavian Safe Haven
Where my family roots are strongest
My true environment, my true people, my true home
Minnesota, where a shamrock and golden crown were linked together
Where two families from different backgrounds connected to become one
To most people, a cold frozen tundra with nothing to do
But I see it as the Great White North, a Polaris
We are not here permanently, we are not Angelinos, we are just squatters
Squatters that have a place they yearn to return to…
Where it All Began
Lenny and Barbara Amato, my step-grandma Linda too, and Eva and Ruben Yvanez.
Their blood running through me, yet so very different.
Lenny, that Sicilian upbringing, he comes from my grandparents who came through Ellis Island.
Barbara, that Jewish, German, and French Canadian background, talk about a mixture.
Linda, well not much is known, but thank you for all the opportunities given to me.
Eva, fresh from El Salvador at the age of 16, already with 3 kids. 14 kids in total, you are strong.
Ruben, straight outta Jalisco, Mexico. My middle name is you. I wear your gold chain everyday.
All of you so different, yet the same. The same? Yes, they are all connected to me.
I know, SHOCKER! I am Jewish, German, French Canadian, Mexican, and Salvadoreño.
For some reason I am just a “beaner,” but there is so much more to me than that.
I have culture and history running through my veins. A combination of hardworking cultures.
My great grandparents names are on Ellis Island. I am a product of immigrants.
Leonard Franklin Amato, my great grandfather had the first main Italian Deli in LA.
My grandpa Ruben took care of everyone, even my Tios and Tias that weren’t his spawn.
Grandma took care of her kids, but did not alway agree with them
formed their own ideas of what was right
Taught me to love everyone like my kin
Raised in a melting pot of a city
From a family that was conservative
They lived together in Hauppauge new york
The whole town looked like homogenized milk
Used to things that were not realistic
They did not mean to be hateful but were
A new generation changed their thinking
Their kids were raised in a different time
They saw the foolishness in their parents
They are both born and raised in Queens, New York
Their children much different then themselves
4 Stories to One
From a generation much different than our own
Stories from north, south and east
All come together to create something
More than just a family
Home to a boot wearing gun toting military man
Only 19 when she took his hand to start anew
Pain and despair riddled all he saw from Lookout’s peak
To Tuskegee university where it all came to
4 stories miles apart
Somehow come together to make us who we are
We are different, but Mom and Dad, the life you’ve made together is one of beauty and hardship.
Dad, straight outta South Gate, defending your life on the streets everyday.
When people look at you they think “gangster and ex con.” But that’s not who you are anymore.
You are an OG, but people don’t get that gangs were a brotherhood and family.
I get there were territory fights, aside from all your past demons. You are a changed man.
You have your own company and you are very successful. I am not me without you pops.
Mom, well your much more different than dad. You had a secure white picket fence upbringing.
School was a certain, and college was where you would be going, no other worries.
Grandpa, regardless, pushed you and made you work very hard. You started from the bottom.
Made it all the way to CEO and were well known as BOSS LADY.
Mom and Dad, it is crazy that this all started when you worked for mom. LOL. She fired you.
Although you have been together since your first date, Grandpa was still disappointed.
He did not approve and it took years for him to be a man and tell you, Dad, that you did it.
You proved him wrong. Look what you did and where Sanny and I are at in life. Thank you.
The Pain of Nostalgia
You proved us all wrong, for that I thank you…
It was never going to be permanent
We came out here to pursue his job, for us, for his family
His love is undying, that is why we uprooted
He talks about returning and running a farm
Wanting to take his wife back for when he retires
And here am I, also on my way out
And it is much harder than I ever imagined
His road has many winding turns, many kinks in his travels
As I am leaving now, eventually time will also be upon him
He will leave, to a place he loves to be, where he wants to be
But it will be much harder than he ever imagined
When the time comes, he will be bombarded with emotions he doesn’t understand
Los Angeles will always be a part of me, apart of him
Fine dining will always be a part of Los Angeles
love for all facets of flavor runs deep
Appreciation for the love in food
Essences and seasons build connections
A pasadena raised restaurateur
Taught the importance of a simple meal
Ran his father’s baby, The Chronicle
Sought to share the joy of the fine dining
waitress fresh in town from colorado
She loved good food but worked to pay the bills
showed her what it really meant to cook
Together they would cook to feed our hearts
Food might just seem like a necessity
They showed me its sweet love – all i’ve ever known
Sweet south side chicago – only place ever known
Each other since teenage years
South shore to chatham not far of a ride
Kindling for a connection lightyears away
She tried to leave once but had to come back
After graduation it was time to let it go
Lights camera action time to get on set
Leaving home sweet home far behind
3000 mile road trip
From the nation’s capital to the entertainment capital
To follow something unsure
Listening to his heart, following the lead
This would be the settling place
It was time to make LA home
I made LA my true home in ‘14. The streets of Venice and Pico molded me into a young man.
These are the same streets that taught me and was home to me for 4 years.
These are the same streets that taught me to help those who need it. And doing so with love.
LA has been my home for 18 years now. I am LA and LA is me.
I am and always will bleed Dodger Blue. Viva los Doyers.
I am and always will bleed the Purple and Gold and will wear the Silver and Black.
I am what I bleed. I am an LA product.
I am from the 626. My style is the 626. I am not me without the 626.
I am a product of those before me. I have been brought up to make a change in this world.
I am not me without my great grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents.
I am going to Colorado next year, but I will be back.
I can’t leave LA forever. It is the land of milk and honey afterall.
I am who I am thanks to LA. I am not me without LA. I am who I am thanks to LA.
Thank you LA. You have given me EVERYTHING. I AM Los Angeles.
The River of Me
Los Angeles you have given me everything
I sit here today, writing this poem, reliving my experiences
Memories flowing through my mind, a rushing river
I’m a fisherman, trying to reel in the best ones
I don’t consider myself an Angelino
I have been rooted all over the United States, East coast to West
Buckeyes, autumn leaves, frigid winters, childhood pond hockey games
All memories floating down the river of my own life
As the river continues to turn, rising up against the rocks, leaving the eerie whitewash
I reel in a new set of memories, something different, an unexpected rush of water
Lots of skyscrapers, the neon orange sun fading into the deep royal blue ocean
A sense of peace overwhelms me, a peace I would have never found
Everything is so calm, the river rushes softly through my mind
Los Angeles is everything I have ever wanted it to be…
My home is everything I ever wanted it to be
Reading street signs for the umpteenth time – How mom taught me to read
La Brea, Rodeo, Stocker, Don Miguel
All hot press branded into my mind
In the city of cars but I don’t own one
Metro is my home
A little piece of orange plastic my key to freedom
Screeching bus brakes and blaring train horns bring me joy
Iron horse bringing people closer than before
More aliens in my hood too
But that’s still not reason
To slander my sweet ride
A place so easy to call home
But now I have to let go
Music – showed me how to let go
helped me escape the emotions of life
Showed me all the blessings i had
Made me realize the love in my life
My brother showed me a foreign language
taught me how to find my deep emotions
He showed me a whole new LA subculture
New group of poets, with unique voices
From my eardrums bleeding at the forum
To dancing in the open spaces of the roxy
Different languages, same emotions
culture openness and sharing ourselves
beats and rhyme giving voice to the voiceless
creating worlds for our exploration