by Julie Goldstein
“Jewel of the Inland Empire”;
A modest little “city”, population around 70,000.
Born off the backs of citrus farmers
The hot dry air and cracked crimson soil rooted with orange groves
Red-lands, orange-lands; perhaps now simply dead-lands.
Each year more and more groves ripped away
To make room for five bedroom tract houses and shopping centers.
Though the smell of citrus still lingers in the air
what once was sweet has gone sour; a bitter odor enveloping the town
seeping sour from pores, collecting in beats of sticky sweat in sunny suburbia.
This quaint city hides crooked families behind closed doors;
Every bland house blends and mushes into another
Like a soggy day old McMuffin, where you can only distinguish the part from the whole
by slight color and texture variations-but no matter, its all gone bad.
Daughters lie by the pool, scorching their skin in Victoria’s Secret push-up bra bikinis
and worrying about the tan line from their bejeweled house arrest bracelet,
while drunken mothers pop xanax and slur their words inside their plush homes
trying to forget about their spoiled rotten kids
and husband who notices his silicone sweetheart is getting older.
it’s no wonder all the kids here are on drugs.
Whether it’s the rich kids throwing house parties in mansions,
popping 5 too many ecstasy and getting shitfaced off keg-stands and bong rips;
or the homeless and runaway “Downtown kids”
Getting high off crystal meth and heroin behind the closed down mall.
The city is home to dead souls and dying bodies,
as bit by bit of sickeningly sour flesh falls away
decomposing in the red earth as the orange peels do.