Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Fireworks

On a rooftop in Los Feliz, at first,
colored lights in all directions, all the
city-sanctioned explosions going off
downtown blocked out by buildings; lingering
smoke, and the occasional daredevil
helicopter, be it police or news,
either way searching out the unlawful
displays, either way too close to the ground,
skirting the ceaseless show in East LA,
unbroken on the horizon, echoed
in Hollywood, Silverlake, Echo Park;
and after, on the highway, driving home,
a more personal effect, near constant
congratulation, frantic light tunnel.

She Was (Between August 1st and 10th, 2007)

Tall
Tall enough
Not too tall

Smile
Warm as the sun
Kind

Eyes
Eyes that show
Soul

Soul that sings
Sings
From the heart

Tall
Tall enough
Not too tall

Altar Ego

So I’m downtown Los Angeles
ArtWalk Thursday eve
And I’m above an old bank

The 2nd floor floor
A made-up floor
Recreated, false-bottomed

Two-by fours
Clog the pores
Of lower floors

And its eight-foot ceilings
Foist bulged reliefs
Too large for the room

An albatross of castaway decades
Red bulbs blare brightness
On stamped concrete artwork

And live jazz for hipsters
I sit in a pew
And sip rye whiskey

Face a dancer’s scaly sequence
Thoughts wander to
Eighty years ago

How some teller stared
At the relief
That looms

In dusk’s distant squint
How he pictures
An escape life

Unlike his own
Sees my ghost
In the future

In a hot-gut breath
There I am
Perched

On a church pew
With a whiskey
Jazz-funk buzzes

His green tie grips
His Adam’s apple
Like a priest’s collar

beauty & mistakes

Elaine Scarry asks us to consider an instance in which we have made an error regarding beauty. Have we dismissed a thing that we were certain could not be beautiful only later to realize how beautiful it really was? Or given the power of beauty to a person or place, an object that did not deserve it, that we later find is not beautiful at all, but plain, even ugly?

For her it is palm trees, a thing she once dismissed. And then one day she finds herself eye-level with a palm ” arcing, arching, waving, cresting and breaking in the soft air, throwing the yellow sunlight up over itself and catching it on the other side, running its fingers down its own piano keys, then running them back up again, shuffling and dealing glittering decks of aqua, green, yellow, and white” and without meaning to change her mind, it has changed.

For me it was Los Angeles, a concrete coffin, smog-blasted and sun-drenched, populated by all the mad people in all the cars on all the roads, going nowhere, circling in time. For two years I did not see beauty while I lived right in it, spun myself in hideous circles. Then one day I drove back from a friend’s house on the 405, the freeway from San Diego to Los Angeles. It was 2 am and the traffic was at a complete standstill in Long Beach, which meant the red lights poured up one side of the freeway and the yellow down the other. I had noticed before, that this could essentially be pretty, that lights are attention-catching, colorful. This was not the unprecedented thought that occurred to me. In fact it was all the mad people in all the cars on all the roads, with me, thrumming along, blaring their horns, that lifted me. Indeed my heart quickened. I came quite alive. These are the things that happen to you, Scarry says, in the presence of real beauty.