poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Barbara Jane Reyes


after Lee Herrick's "My California"

Let me serenade the streets of L.A.
From Oakland to Sacktown
The Bay Area and back down…
—2PAC, “California Love,” featuring Dr. Dre

In my California, we wild, wild west. We Gold Rush fabulous. We Watsonville carabao. We Morro Bay rock. We Walnut Grove boogie. We broccoli be-bop. We Tule Lake. We Manzanar. We poema en español. We stand at the end of el Camino Real.

In my California, we no Heathen Chinee. We no Hollywood starlet. We know there is there. We know pesticide water. We know Mojave rattlesnake. We truckin’ hard down the Grapevine. We chargin’ SUV’s up the Altamont Pass.

In my California, we know how to party. We Black Panther Party. We 2PAC and Dre. We Dime a Day, we Dollar a Dance. We Fillmore jazz. We Summer of Love. We Barbary Coast. We I-Hotel. We Chinatown. We North Beach howl.

In my California, we no Baywatch babe. We East Los, we South Central LA. We Rodney King video. We campesino. We mighty Sacramento River. Rooted deep sequoia giants, we lovin’ the wind, we kissin’ the sky.


Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Diwata (BOA Editions, Ltd, 2010), recently noted as a finalist for the California Book Award. She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. She received her BA in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and her MFA at San Francisco State University. She teaches poetry and Filipino Literature at Mills College, University of San Francisco, and San Francisco State University. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland, where she is co-editor of Doveglion Press.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.