I lived in San Pedro, CA for six years. It is a small town at the end of the Harbor freeway, nestled between the LA Harbor and the heel of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Locals call it the “island”. It has a rough and tumble history, sporting the reputation for being “the toughest port in the world!”
San Pedro is both a port/small-town and a state-of-mind.
Old-timers like Jackson (who used to hold court down at Sacred Grounds most mornings) spin tales of wild cats & kitties and wild days & nights... Where bars like Shanghai Red's were full every Saturday night and every Sunday morning, so were the churches.
Times are different now, the only wild cats roaming the town are feral (tho’ some of the kitties can be a hand-full, too). Every so often, the Pedro Pirates take All-City in high school football, but apart from the periodic high-speed police chase and the odd oil refinery explosion; it’s pretty sleepy... real “Andy of Mayberry.”
Now I live in another harbor town that’s similar in many ways to ‘Peedro.’ But, as most of you know, similar is “close to” but never the “same as”.
I’d like to thank the following folks (you know who you are so I won’t embarrass you by mentioning your names) for providing me with either the aid & comfort of your presence or the inspiration to keep at this: the gang at The old Lighthouse Deli (my “kitchen” for four years), the gang at Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse (especially in those halcyon daze of ‘93 to ‘96), the gang down at John T’s (the old bar on 6th), and all the great people I met through my association with Vinegar Hill Bookstore (now sadly, gone too).
Long Beach, CA
The San Pedro Poems may be purchased directly from the Lummox Press by sending SIX dollars to POB 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733. Questions? EMAIL ME: email@example.com
RD Armstrong -- painter, pirate, poet, pauper... well, you get the idea -- started writing poetry again in San Pedro, CA in 1993 after a long bout with writer’s block. After taking the Cure at San Pedro’s fabled Sunken City, Raindog, as he was then known, began the journey that has propelled him to his current status and allowed him to finally give the town back what it deserves. With Love.
His Legacy : Unkissed By The Angels (out of print - Lummox Press, 1994); And Love is Dancing Just Out of Reach (out of print - Lummox Press, 1994); Pedro Blue (out of print - Vinegar Hill Press, 1995); Last Call: A Legacy of Madness (contributor, Vinegar Hill Press, 1995); Paper Heart Vol.1 (out of print - Lummox Press, 1997); In Memoriam (The Inevitable Press, 1997); Fool’s Paradise LRB 1 (Lummox Press, 1998); El Pagano LRB 2 (Lummox Press, 1998); Paper Heart Vol.2 (Lummox Press, 1999); Bone LRB 4 (with Todd Moore, Lummox Press, 1999); Eyes Like Mingus LRB 8 (jazz poetry anthology, Lummox Press, 1999); A Journey up the Coast LRB 11 (Lummox Press, 1999); Maytag Heights LRB 16 (homeless poetry anthology to benefit Habitat For Humanity, Long Beach, Lummox Press, 1999); Paper Heart Vol. 3 LRB 22 (Lummox Press, 2000); On/Off the Beaten Path LRB 27 (Lummox Press, 2000); Lost Highway LRB 28 (Lummox Press, 2000); GRIT #1 (Contrib. - Lummox Press, 2000); The San Pedro Poems (Lummox Press, 2001); Paper Heart Vol. 4 (Lummox Press, 2002); RoadKill (12 Gauge Press, 2002) and LAST CALL: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski, editor and contributor (Lummox Press, 2004).
Besides being the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for the Lummox Press, RD also edits, contributes to and publishes the Lummox Journal a semi-monthly, small press digest which loosely examines the creative mind through interviews, articles, illustration and poetry. After doing it for over a decade, Raindog has decided to cease publication at the end of 2006. After that, the Lummox Journal will be available in cyberspace.
PUEBLO DE LAS PUTAS She stumbled down the sidewalk fighting with a large white “sports” bag. She wore a tight knit black dress that seemed determined to ride up to an interesting height. It was late, nearly one AM, and I was heading south on Pacific back to the point, back home. I would’ve liked to stay and seen who got the best of her first, but the two gentlemen in the green 67’ Chevy behind me had a different idea. Later, back home, I remembered, when I first moved to this town, I thought that this was an awfully friendly town. The women on Pacific were always smiling downtown Smiling and waving at me. Then I began seeing some of them regularly on the same street corners or hanging around the same telephone late at night; and I became suspicious......... I was embarrassed by my lack of sofistication and felt repulsed by these Putas who had tricked me. But then, one night, at a stop light, I happened to make eye contact with one of these ladies and in the blink of an eye, all the desperation, fear and anger of all the long nights strung out and lonely, the stinky sex on a dirty rag hopelessly trapped hellish days it was all there. I saw the comedy amidst the ruins of her life- waiting for a phone call to make her one fuck closer to that final fix. And across town and several months later a woman drunk on sex (or whatever) stumbles home, her skirt heading North faster than she can. WHILE READING LORCA Always I am thinking of you even at the oddest times alone in the house washing dishes or taking a leak while reading a book or watching the news or watching the gutters turn red first with rust and then with blood while reading Lorca or Yeats or Bukowski listening to the blues or listening to my friends bantering or conversations overheard at a bar or a cafe you are just around the corner rushing into and through my life on your way to somewhere else. SATURDAY MORNING DRIVEBY An old latino or a white haired man sits on the steps of an empty lot A nice house probably stood atop these steps, once but no more. The man looks grimly out at the street as I drive past He does not follow my passing with much interest His face is as cracked and weathered as the concrete steps on which he sits There is an easy sadness about this moment: The Man The Steps The Driver The Street. Nothing is required of any of the players only the simple movement of the day.
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