Recoup XX by Iris De Anda

As citizens of Los Angeles, we must acknowledge our presence on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples. One of the ongoing movements in L.A. is the fight for fair and just housing as home and rental prices increase. In November 2020, activists from Reclaim and Rebuild Our Community and other community members occupied abandoned homes in El Sereno. Homes bought by CalTrans decades ago stand empty as homeless statistics rise, which has worsened due to Covid-19. It is inhumane to have rows of empty homes boarded up as more families face eviction. Poet-activist Iris De Anda reminds us that housing rights are human rights. Her words reclaim the land.

Recoup XX

Am I not deserving of nice things?
Of a doorway that leads home
Of a window to call my own
Of dirty dishes that can sit for hours
Of hallways that echo memories
Of a bookshelf that needs dusting
Of a roof I can stare at from my bed sheets that hold my flesh & sin & suenos

Four walls
The house of the North Star
Eastside Los Angeles
La Casa del Sur
West Coast
Four directions
Roof of my mouth,
Floor catches my fall
As above, so below

Are we not deserving of nice things?
Twenty families in search for more
The neighbors kick in the door
The glass cuts through skin pores
California Highway Patrol rolls in with hogties & roars
Orders to restore empty homes
Housing the ghost of Caltrans Corridor
Crimes against Humanity
Capitalist mentality
Brutal symphony
Disrupt ceremony of hearth

Mi Cuerpo un Caracol
Rename ourselves rebellion
Remember our Abuelos wrath
We are the Rose that grew from blood
We are the bullet that resurrects
We are the key that opens the chest

Are we not deserving of nice things?
I have bolt cutters to the gate
Show up in the morning of your American Dream
Blow off some steam in your coffee cup
Gonna make you drop the routine
This is no longer make-believe
This is 2021 reality

Burst in with the candor of your lust
This life is more explicit than it seems
Us seeking shelter rearranges your dreams
Us piercing into your nightmare streams
Cause you’re one paycheck away from our extreme
Makes you mad at a nine to five slave mentality
Wake up midlife crisis
Someone is already dead & you realize you are me


Iris De Anda

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist and practitioner of the healing arts. A womyn of color of Mexican and Salvadorean descent, she is a native of Los Angeles and believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling and dreams. She has been published in The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States, Poetry of Resistance Anthology, Mujeres de Maiz and OCCUPY SF, poems from the Occupy movement. She is the author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazon, and her next collection, Roots of Redemption: You Have No Right to Remain Silent, is forthcoming in March 2021 from FlowerSong Press.