#5 Mi Rancho

There was a Mexican grocery store called Mi Rancho

Near the city jail

Buttressed by bail bondsmen and cut-rate law offices

A sweet spot for viciousness

This was downtown Oakland, CA in the seventies

Rough and raw and flush with low expectations

No gentrification to be found here

But to us kids, oblivious to the dangers of the streets

Mi Rancho was our wonderland

We could smell the chorizo as soon as we entered

Peppers and sausage and lard mixed together

Then perfectly encased in its delicate skin

That my mother would oh so carefully remove

With one flick of a sharp knife

How she didn’t cut herself I will never know

Then she would fry it, and the whiff of the spices

And the sparks of fat crashing against the pan

Lulled us into perfect bliss.

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