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59 California Heartland People in the heartland die alone in their homes and people like my mother inherit their dangers. Workers like my brother wear dust coats to dinner. They roll through the rumble and prize every fighter who guns down flowers without waiting for a word. I’m saying I was born in midwinter madness when ice locked the orange trees in tendrils of freezing. Got here gaping—two squint-eyes and slick skin— then stabbed my way eastward for a stranger in the storm. But the fires from the valley crossed the country like a cancer— they ripped up the stone wheat like God knows what. So run, I tell you, from the places that trap you from the walls that sand you till your skin shakes down. ...


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