Made In Cuba, Broken in the U.S.A

by Wasabi Kanastoga

First came the chirping I had so often heard the mockingbird make


Followed by a demand, Hey ese, where you from?

Coming from a white Impala, red interior

My eyes transfixed on two fuzzy dice hanging,

Swinging from the rear-view mirror

My broken English answer, From Cuba, I was made in Cuba!

The door sprung open and one of them sprinted after me,

You wise ass motherfucker, he kept yelling, chasing

Pocket knife in hand, kakis 4x’s his size

Up ahead was the San Antonio Library, Huntington Park

(not Huntington Beach, but Huntington Park,

The Hood, no surf boards, no rad waves,

Lots of liquor stores and helicopters)

Sanctuary for this Nouveau Quasimodo

Fresh arrival made of palm fronds and blue skies

Smoothened by equatorial humidity

Propelled by mamonsillo juice (look that shit up).

San Antonio Library,

A 1950’s art deco with heavy front doors

That my sweaty hands trembled in opening

But once inside all else disappeared

This was their kryptonite

Crucifix and sunlight to The Dark Prince

As if I had entered another dimension they could not infiltrate

No trespassing into this world of paper and ink of musk and silence

Where pages awaited one’s fingertips with the patience of a monk

As this ritual repeated itself

Until I learned to bow my head and murmur,

Not from here and no longer from there

Somewhere in-between, perdido.

San Antonio Library bound

Each afternoon after the last bell

San Antonio, Patron Saint of the Lost.

Wasabi Kanastoga is a Cuban born poet raised in Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared in various anthologies and reviews. He works as a counselor with victims of abuse.