On the Fourth of July, Pilsen erupts
with sound: Mira, mama,
the fireworks! the little girl gazes,
all skinny neck and slack jaw, up at
the explosions, her face skylit
in orange and red.
Sideline-spectating parents drink Tecate or Miller Lite
on sagging front porches, inhale
barbecue smoke and brimstone, and those
who have work tomorrow may suffer
through a morning headache, but
it’ll be worth it.  Tonight
they are celebrating
the independence of a country that
holds citizenship tight like a Roman candle
whose bright stars burst
just above their heads.  They are but spectators
here where children grow taller
than their parents, speak
in accents foreign but familiar from TV; here
where success is measured in car payments, computers
not in last names
or quantities of land.
Tonight the firework-pops keep babies awake
remind some neighbors of militias and gangs
others of independencias commemorated on a
different date; but for this night at least,
Pilsen celebrates, and no one
goes to sleep early.

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