Industrial Worker Book Reveiw: 8 Hours to Work, 8 Hours to Sleep, 8 Hours to Read

Tear Down

Larry Fondation

Larry Fondation is the author of the novels Angry Nights, and Fish, Soap and Bonds and the story collections Common Criminals and Unintended Consequences.  His fiction focuses on the Los Angeles underbelly.  His two most recent books feature collaborations with artist Kate Ruth.  Fondation has lived in LA since the 1980s and worked for fifteen years as an organizer in South Central Los Angeles, Compton and East L.A.  His fiction and non-fiction pieces have appeared in a range of diverse publications including Flaunt (where he is Writer-at-Large), Plastique, West, Fiction International, Night Train, Quarterly West, The Industrial Worker Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, and The Harvard Business Review.  He is a recipient of a 2008-09 Christopher Isherwood Fellowship in Fiction Writing.Tear Down is an excerpt from his novel A Home No More . His website is:

Jackhammers struck;
The building came down –
In bits and pieces,
Then all at once.
Our candles and lights,
Crushed all at once –
Piles of stuff,
Gathered then scattered,
All gone, but no matter—
Here and there,
All over —

She and I,
She and I.


I think they think it's good
When they raze the building we live in,
Brick by brick,
Board by board,
But we have nowhere, nowhere to go,
But it's OK,
We have no rent to pay.

Begging. Asking. Asking questions. Asking for money. Beg the question. Beg for money. Mendicancy. Beggar. Baker. Candlemaker. Thief. Gandhi in rags. Alms. Begging for alms. Asking for alms. What are alms? Are you asking for help? Help? What? No. Signs of brown cardboard, lettered with Sharpies. Black, but sometimes, blue or red. Is washing windows work? Antonio and Jan and the Central City Association. On the corner with NBC, ABC, CNN, all the above, alphabet soup, but just for this one day, one day, this one day only. Not me. Every day. Asking. Asking ultimate questions: A dollar. A quarter. A song on the radio. A Siren. A siren. Is it raining? I have no Suitors. I have Omensetter's Luck.


The birds flew up and over us some place.

Rubble strewn on desktops;
Broken coffee,
Torn tea and trash.
Leaves eat the sun and the air.
Scattered sheets of glass,
Shattered, then reformed.
We come from ice.


Scrap and detritus are my substance,
Jackhammers cracking concrete,
Carving out letters,
Cutting asphalt,
Spelling out words.

Beetles face off on the curbstone,
Screaming war cries,
Ants burdened by armor and ammunition.

Mud and rain and plant parts…

They were replacing the parking meters on San Pedro.

Curbstones broken,
Shattered asphalt,
Chopped into chunks by graphic assault.
I have a brass scale:
No matter how much weight
I put on one tray,
It still never balances.
Frames lack pictures;
Space depicts nothing.

The bare minimum,
So invisible.

I've sucked on she-wolves' tits.

My brother and I co- founded Los Angeles.

Arma virumque cano.

I wake up on San Pedro Street. In a doorway. On the walls are moths, plastered and smattered against the pale stucco, all dead. Attracted to the shining lights during the night. Deceased by daylight. Dead by morning. I have slept on the west side of the street. Looking east, towards the River, I see straight-line nooses to be, telephone wires north and south, and on the wires, perched, are 400 crows, perhaps more, all aligned like textbooks, like children in a row. One minute they are still; the next they flutter and fly – first a few of them, then the whole flock, one or two remaining, the noise like a firetruck, an emergency.

Crows are the smartest of birds. Corvids. They know more than I do.


Razor wire casts shadows,
like witches,
Beneath the open window.
Ye Olde Taco House,
Tamales for the Danvers warlocks.
I am outside that window looking in,
Not inside looking out,
Intestines uncurled, unfurled,
Outside the carcass of the lamb.


On Saturdays when I am clear, I walk up and down Broadway. I am in Mexico. I hear voices in Spanish. I think I used to speak Spanish, but I am not sure.

An ice cream truck pulls to the curb by 5th Street. The driver turns on the musical lure. IIt is Beethoven's Fur Elise.


It all goes on forever.
Dust and shadows.
Endless understanding.
“Detritus in the crazy streets.” Geoffrey Hill

No, it's not leaves blowing, but it is a leaf blower…

I feel like undulating hills today. Today I feel like rocks.

Today I feel like orange peels.
Flashlights on and off,
Slick oil on the pavement.
Chatter in different tongues;
I boil glass.

Settled visions like coffee stains,
A dog digging at the dirt,
Paws pawing,
Chunks of earth giving way,
Shrugging dog shoulder,
Not finding what it's looking for,
Nonchalant: piss on the fire hydrant.
Wood bats, police batons,
Broken broomsticks,
Animals that bore into the ground, birds pecking holes in trees.
The stains in the kitchen,
Torn towels on the floor.
I drink a can of beer,
Grab the shovel and start to dig.
Empty cages all around me.

Moths are stupid creatures – to fly towards light and death. Just like the rest of us.

Roland, Roland, you are my enemy. Because of you, heroic man, mythic man, there is only one sad chanson…

I just write this shit down. That's all I have left.


Circles of concrete,
Flashing lights;
Helicopters like paratroopers,
Or dragonflies,
Sidewalks scare me:
Rather concrete –
A sworn police officer,
The oath of office,
Promises kept and broken
Purple pills and red ones,
And bright yellow.
I swallow without water.
A pale blessing hangs,
Over the burning city.


I saw a small blue thread on the carpet of my flea-bag hotel. I picked it up and put it in the trash. Then I thought that it might get thrown away. I had paid my twenty dollars for the night and I liked that little blue thread. So I took it out of the trash barrel and put it back on the floor. The trash barrel was beside my bed in the small room; it hadn't been emptied for days, nor for previous guests. But I couldn't bear the thought of that thread going to some dumpster. I looked at it back on the dirty carpet, in a slightly different locale from where it had been before. But it was equally vulnerable. It could get stuck to some one's shoe, mine even, and end up who knows where…I worry where.


Not knowing is knowing, and knowing is not knowing.
Information is not knowledge.
I pick up the small blue thread.
I put it in my pocket.

* * *

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