a contagion beyond belief
witnessed first at Willets Point
when men in camel coveralls
banged hubcaps together in the Iron Triangle
chanting for their right to stay. An hombre on a bike
wore a cape, a U.S. flag tied around his neck, riding
through potholes, craters really, on a road never paved.
The flag dipped into coolant sludge and cinnamon horchata
warm rice milk dripping from the ladle of the tamale woman
selling on the street with no sewers, just a sewer bill in the hand
of Haysos Jr as he hit each puddle on purpose, splashing White Shirts
their curses flipped off, then abruptly slipped away.
Sprinkled by the God-Bless-America water, kinda holy
kinda narcotic, they ripped up their blueprints of MerchLand
loosened their ties and each grabbed a poncho.
The mariachi’s emerged with gilded sombreros
guitars painted with suns, trumpets that peppered the insides
of those present, who all began to dance and swing from arm to arm
as an NYU film student captured the ordinary miracle
and posted it to the world.
After that, fashion shows folded, crumbled
like the old felt trim on fedoras. Shivering models
escaped to eat platefuls of enchiladas, wearing sneakers
and sweatshirts that said “Feed the Chihuahuas!”
Every day was a freewheeling runway down the sidewalk
on Bedford Ave, Vernon Boulevard, the Grand Concourse
people dressed to express, huge runs on thrift store racks
Christmas sweaters and rummage sale stacks.
Flea markets flooded, bidding soared at estate sales for bouffant wigs
and two-toned suspenders. Nuns wore calico bonnets
and stockbrokers sported suede jackets imprinted with Vegas casinos.
Taxidermists in silk kimonos made slippers
out of discarded Muppets.
Every night was Halloween Eve! Craft stores
sold out rhinestones and fabric paint. Pet owners forgot
to clothe their dogs, so growling ceased. Babies stayed
in their soft birthday suits and flannel blankets—colic cured!
Kids got busy playing with mud pretending
to be Art Teacher and Builder and Cook
as the sugar disease oozed out of their fingers and blood.
Mothers outlined clothes patterns on sheets of tissue paper
as their little phones died. Dads whistling, engrossed at their sewing
machines while beers grew warm. Grandpas distressed old uniforms
in bleached leaf patterns. Politicians hosted drag queen shows
all preached out! Drug lords assembled dime bags of needles
and thimbles and thread. Rulers, of course, went nude, which they adored
felt so good they parachuted from planes free and easy
into the arms of their enemies! Grandmas quietly started
ruling the world.
And so young people could drop their weapons and orders
and burkas, free to loose themselves in the cedar closet
of recycled bolts of velvet and fleece meeting up in quilting
circles to discuss the Zen of personal style. They melted guns
into looms and that long ago sound coming from the Garment
District began again in a co-work hum hum humming.
Back in Corona, Queens, under the glow of Mets Stadium
(yoga night at the ball field) Senorita Maria Luther Koshkov
stands near a shrine welded out out of tailgates and mufflers
inside an old boxcar lined with sunflowers. She douses
the pilgrims with iced cold Willets Point water
acutely awake, they walk away purged of designer cults
uploaded immediately and liked by 3 billion
Maria lifts open an orange 3-gallon cooler
and hands each one a warm Kosher tamale
for their long journey home.
Gina Inzunza writes both poetry and plays that incorporate poetry (poemsicals). Her most recent play, Slam Team, won “Outstanding Production of a Short Play” in the 2014 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Her book of poetry for teenage girls, called Inside Voices at the Girl Aquarium, came out in 2013, www.girlaquarium.com. She also works with POPLab, an organization that strives to bring poetry off the page, www.poplab.org.