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David Romero
August 2023

David A. Romero is a Mexican-American spoken word artist from Diamond Bar, CA. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of El Martillo Press. Romero is the author of My Name Is Romero (FlowerSong Press), a book reviewed by Gustavo Arellano (¡Ask a Mexican!), Curtis Marez (University Babylon), and founding member of Ozomatli, Ulises Bella. Romero has received honorariums from nearly a hundred colleges and universities in thirty-four different states in the USA and has performed live in Mexico, Italy, and France. Romero's work has been published in literary magazines in the United States, Me​​xico, England, Scotland, and Canada. Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning bands Ozomatli and La Santa Cecilia. Romero's work has been published in anthologies alongside poets laureate Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Luis J. Rodriguez, Jack Hirschman, and Tongo Eisen-Martin. Romero has won the Uptown Slam at the historic Green Mill in Chicago; the birthplace of slam poetry. Romero's poetry deals with family, identity, social justice issues, and Latinx culture. Romero offers a scholarship for high school seniors interested in spoken word and social justice: “The Romero Scholarship for Excellence in Spoken Word.”


The world is new and cold

Naked and pointy trees tell the tale

Almost as bare as those mountains north

Condensation on car windows

The defrost button once a stranger

Now a friend

To drive is to risk being lost in the fog

To walk is to risk being stuck in the rain

Rain here brings snow on mountains

A little produces rings on ledges

Like the icing on layers of cake

Like rings of tinsel on your tree

You just packed that into the garage


Scarves, mittens, and umbrellas rush to the mall

The hubcaps of white SUVs ride to the mountains

Snowboarding and ski trips

You mostly stay home

Pretend to enjoy the solemnity of the gray world

But actually hate it

Hate the world in shadow

The only thing you enjoy is that stinging cold outside

Before you break a sweat

Cutting wood and gathering kindling

Before you flick your lighter

To begin your night’s entertainment

Outside with that dark blue and purple sky

And the black silhouettes of the few trees seen from your backyard


Rain will wash you out


You will love the smell of your house filled with the memory of smoke


You will meet your friend Mario at a coffeeshop

Layer-up to sit outside in cold metal chairs

Under an awning and clear skies

The mountains will be covered with snow

One of you will remark how that’s a rare sight

The other will agree


You are two Southern Californians


Playing at Winter.




Shopping malls across America

Were covered in rock

Long slabs cut into decorative panels

Glued onto the faces of buildings

To give them color and texture.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Believed that in design

It was vital

To incorporate elements from the local environment

To make buildings

Appear as if they were just another part of the land’s features.

Some of those new buildings were beautiful

Those rock slabs

Really did accomplish their stated goal

Of bringing more character

To those chain restaurants and big box retailers

But in the years between 2001 and 2006

My best friend


Didn’t see decorative faces

He saw scalable ones

He didn’t see walls

He saw handholds


Crags and footholds


Tall enough to give you a thrill

But not enough to take your life

Enough to break a leg or roll an ankle

But not enough to leave you paralyzed

From “bouldering”

The climbing of boulders

Neal called it “buildering”

The climbing of buildings

In rock climbing

The pre-charted set of moves

One can use to ascend a face is called a route

Each route has a scale of difficulty

Routes are also called problems

And problems started springing up all over suburbia

We drove in Neal’s musty red jeep

With climbing shoes

Chalk bags and a green foam fold-up crash pad

Looking for them

One of our favorites was in Brea

An auto-repair shop

We only ever climbed it at night

Most of the time sober

But when Neal was drunk

No matter where we were

He would immediately take off

Start climbing the first thing he could see

He was reckless and fearless

Some people thought he was weird

Wanted to avoid him

But to some of us

He was a legend

Scale the face

Climb the mountain

Even if it’s in your own backyard

Rock slabs with chalk marks already there

It was catching on

I started referring to it as a movement

The beginning of a suburban renaissance

Like bombing trains

Tagging walls

Grinding in empty pools

Businesses caught on

The faces were polished smooth

Smoother than the hardest routes on El Cap

And any remaining chalk marks

Were washed off

Wiped clean

Like the problems had never been there.

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