By Mariana Rivera

12th Ave at 11 AM:
A man rides his bike down the street,
His sweat soaked t-shirt flapping in the wind
As he passes through.
Lights flash behind him,
Then come the police.
Occasionally, cars creep past
The alley we take refuge in.
Desert nomads, moving inch by inch,
Following the shade religiously
Because no god can save us the way the clouds do,
When they cover the sun for a minute or two
As we each take a drink of
Our Lord and Savior:
An 89 cent thirstbuster.
Mornings are spent beneath a low hanging tree,
Afternoons are plastered
Backs to the wall,
Permanent ink on concrete
And permanent ink in skin.

12th Ave at 1 AM:
In the middle of the summer,
We’re piled into the bed of a friend’s truck
With tequila on our tongues.
A drunk man is singing
Hey Jude
To a drunk lady
On a bus bench
While we speed past, and
Even in the dark
The colorful buildings grab hold of us.
A piece of my soul escapes with a laugh
And I watch it dance around street lights.
The empty road whispers into the wind,
Reassuring us that here, we have a home.

12th Ave at 5 PM:
5 dollars and 5 friends,
No breakfast, no lunch.
Our stomachs roar the whole way to the Dollar Tree
Where we’ve learned to build a meal big enough for everybody,
Plus a snack for the homeless man sitting by the door,
Because we get it.
One day a lady in the candy aisle offers a puppy she can no longer afford
And after one look,
Homeboy holds her in his hands
And we spend all we have
On a new collar.

If you walk down 12th Ave alone,
You’ll be greeted by ghosts
Of good times and bad times past,
Because all the life we’ve lived here
Will remain here.
Maybe you’ll find a flower
Growing between two slabs of sidewalk
Right next to the man passed out on the ground
With his belly out,
And his face covered.
He too, is a ghost.
And so is the flower.

This piece is titled “12th Ave/All The Life We’ve Lived Here” Because while attending Pueblo, I’ve spent a dumb amount of time roaming the streets surrounding the school, living and growing with my friends and this poem is really important to me because it’s dedicated to them and 12th Ave because I feel that I’ve grown up a second time on 12th and in South Tucson.