In droves they flock southwest for warmth and waters 
in airliners buzzing the palms of Balboa Park,
where fountains spout and clustered venues draw crowds
seeking culture and nature alike as strains of Canuck crooners 
suffuse the atmosphere with fashionable ditties and Hallelujahs.
Locals, mostly friendly and deferential, roll by on e-scooters
randomly abandoned en route to tourism sector roles 
tending to dolphins and killer whales, operating roller coasters 
or miniature trains, serving up pollo asado burritos 
with cilantro and chipotle mayo to elate palates.
Here is a seaside playground seasoned in welcoming comers,
replete with resort trappings typifying vacation-as-lifestyle,
its slopes and districts a backdrop for the beautiful
wining and dining in the Gaslamp Quarter 
and annually parading pets past Fifth and Market.
You needn’t clamber amid the jets and choppers atop 
Midway’s flight deck to note the heavy navy presence; 
vets abound, and many serve latter-day duty tours 
as docents guiding the wide-eyed through halls and history.
Along with memories of tropical plant and tree species, 
scenic zoo gondolas suspended above the canopy, 
thrills and giggles at Belmont Park, you cannot help
recalling rampant homelessness, a ubiquitous epidemic 
overspilling the barrios, souring the sightseeing, 
irking even the most insouciant slobbering ice cream; 
for no different are the derelict, refugees from colder locales, 
who at great pains likewise made coastward pilgrimage,
yearning for a sunny haven and fresher horizons.
Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 300 publications in 30 countries.

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