Garrett Hongo: An Ode to Independence Day, Laguna Beach, 2007

Vox Populi

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
—Walt Whitman

We came like a tide swelling to the shore except from inland—
places named for saints in Spanish, a realtor’s dream, a field of oranges,
and, nostalgically, a town planned for post-Civil War elites
seeking refuge from a Chicago rife with newcomers—
Santa Ana, Lake Forest, Anaheim, and Garden Grove.
Our sleek cars, metallic sharks, cruise the streets and nuzzle curbsides,
steel skins ticking as the air cools in the onrush of the evening chill,
sand and salt in a light haze over insolent, candy-flake paints.
It’s the Fourth in Laguna Beach and we’ve spent the afternoon
strolling the boardwalk from the bluffs to the basketball courts,
past the eponymous hotel and rows of cheap motels with capricious names,
eating over-salted popcorn and lapping our drools of ice cream.

It’s almost amnesiac, this dry equinoctial day
fading to fireflame…

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