September 2, 2005

ON THE OPENING

OF THE NEW NATIONAL CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY

By Adolfo Guzman Lopez

For Anne Campbell and all the other residents of National City

Our history is written in 19th century journals

Our history is written on the sandy banks of the reservoir

Our history is written in cholo script in an alley behind St. Anthony’s


They brought their books

To Rancho de la Nación


A boy opens a book and dreams


The library was my sanctuary

The library kept me inside

The library took me out


Children still run next to mountains of recycled metal

Protestant chanting streams out of the Bay Theater and into the harbor

The Hebrew lessons lay buried under 8th Street

The children’s songs lay buried under 8th Street

They sprout between cracks in the sidewalk

After the winter rains


The train tracks came and went

The night clubs and pizza parlors came and went

The Navy ships will have come and gone

The Mile of Cars will one day be a yard of tires

But the people will have their books

But the people will have their language

But the people will have their stories


A girl opens a book and dreams


One day, the house with the best view will be the one atop Mt. San Miguel

We have lived to see the day when the books get their rightful repository


¡Edúcate Raza!

Wise up people

George’s Cakes will become a taquería

Will become Manila fried chicken

Will become a pupusería

Will become a union hall

Will become an overseas call center for Chinese credit card companies


Don’t touch the words because they are holy


Devour the words because they are holy

Read to the children

So they can leave

And come back


There’s a railroad diary buried there

There’s a Bible buried there

There’s a Koran buried there

There’s a Torah buried there


We’ve watered the earth

We’ve taken care of the books

And these new stone walls have sprouted


So that a little boy and a little girl

Can open up a book and dream


Editor’s Note: Adolfo Guzman Lopez often referred to as the “unofficial poet laureate” of National City presented this poem at the official inauguration of the National City Public Library, after which many people requested that the poem be published. We are happy that Mr Lopez asked that the poem be published in La Prensa San Diego. Adolfo Guzman Lopez is a poet and journalist. He grew up in National City and is currently a radio reporter in Los Angeles.

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