At the Last Bookstore

At the last bookstore, Anne Frank still smiles
on the shelf,
marked down to sell.

No one is buying tonight.


beyond the miles
of cinder block walls
suburban backyards
the bricks
the color of old bandaids

comes the bright tumble
of perennial California citrus
oranges, lemons, grapefruit
swollen on the branch
and smashed
on the sidewalk

a careless harvest

down that road

past the fruit no one is hungry enough to pick
to eat

keeps spraypainting
a swastika
on the county-owned storage trailer
as big as a railroad car
parked forever
on the canyon road.

Someone else keeps spraypainting over it.

A spray of fury:   black
​  white
  ​  ​  ​  ​    ​  ​​black
​  ​white  ​  ​  ​  ​  ​​ ​black​.
Both are so diligent.

Lisa Alvarez‘s essays and short stories have appeared in publications including the American Book Review and Los Angeles Times, and in anthologies, including Sudden Fiction Latino. She is a professor of English at Irvine Valley College and co-directs the Writers Workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.
*Photo courtesy of Ian Collins.
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