Jalen Kobayashi is the author of Northwest Ordinance which explores the identity crisis in knowing and accepting all sides one’s self and one’s family while living in one skin. This is a collection for Chicago’s children whose roads to riches start from the rags given them at birth.

 

karlov: cake store

our red Camry is in the vice grip of my uncle’s overtime
we leg out two blocks to the cake store off Pulaski
the white paint peels on boarded buildings
the homeless spit/linger underneath the pennies we place in plastic cups
dirt on palms
/
it is my cousin’s birthday and we are 27 minutes late
these two blocks take us on a trail/ untethered
we finally make it under the solace of awning/
something like Spanish but indistinguishable by the ambiguous light of overcast/
by way of spell we spell her name
the frosting flickers off the brush like dirt on palms
this looks like a working class
building smells like carpenters and work boots/
child support and undercutting factory labor
the owners have about 7 kids
/
7 years later i am a lonesome tulip in vacant lots
this neighborhood looks like reverse gentrification
the cake shop is gone; it has not been replaced
it is a phone number and desperate for contact
i slide my fingernails among the film of dust and remember the way that frosting would ice cake/
it is overcast
and i look in the opaque window
and see myself
holding a plastic cup
like a boarded/building