A Poem a day – Inner City Conflict

LA RiotsConflict in our cities is nothing new but I remember watching pictures of the riots in April & May of 1992 in Los Angeles. I can understand when people have grievances, we all have them from time to time in our lives, but when a city splits like LA did it is more shocking. Ethnic groups have always created neighbourhoods when they move to an area so, as an outsider who has only been to LA once in 1990, the city seemed to implode on itself and with conflict on racial lines and forgetting the Rodney King catalyst, the underlining deprivation and lack of opportunity. These lines are what I saw and tried to make sense of as they unfolded on my TV.

 A City Weeps

City of Angels, glowing in celestial light

With streets maddened, alleys oozing hatred.

Blue lights flickering against the streets’

Horizons, insects buzzing around the rotten

Corpse left by timeless neglect.

Your heart is torn, by a myriad of souls

Searching, scraping fingers bleeding as they

Tear at the walls built around them.

A figure lies motionless, head nuzzling the

Macadam, in a cold embrace of death.

Yet another victim of indiscriminate violence,

Disrimination by a victim: an irony.

The wrong colour must suffer.

The negro, cap reversed, stands arrogantly

Astride the body fist raised in defiance.

A symbol of power which in reality is meaningless.

Blames society for his act, calls for recognition

As a human being and proceeds to destroy his own


A shot rings out from the barrel of the Korean’s

Semi-automatic. His life’s work smouldering behind.

As a minority he’s fought his way up the ladder only to

Have the rungs destroyed by his peers.

The white youth emerges from the store liquor in hands

Now part of the riot which has lost its meaning

Shadowed now in the revels of the Criminal Class.

The City weeps as the future disappears into the

Horror of the past.


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