Los Angeles at a Distance (poem)


silence doesn’t last long here.
     soon the earthquakes from a motorcycle
or a pickup truck hiccupping up this hill
     will carry it away in its mouth.

only the life of color seems to persist here,
    birthing in the crimsoned fire of dry leaves
that languidly nudge at their embers like
     phoenixes about to soar once more; or

the mahogany-stained earth
     whose brown rolls like a careless sow
holding silver-specked rocks and
     pallid cigarette butts in its teeth.

yet not even the sky can hide its blue —
     a hue as delicate as onion skin –
from the city stretching, open-mouthed,
    for its hanging, elusive expanses.

soon the sky will wear a necklace of brown fog
    and support itself with outstretched arms,
lest it fall onto the tempting lioness,
     the concrete toothless maiden waiting below.

everything’s ephemeral in los angeles,
     the service entrance to paradise, the city
where the furtive veil of smog is
    made of everyone’s abandoned dreams.

there, in that land of walking stars
     and where daily life is led
like a leashed dog on a theatrical stage;

     in that city where at a distance
she sleeps urban and catatonic, 
    and there are more flies than flowers in her hair.

in that tragic misnomer without angels,
     where our memories ensconce themselves,
painted on the ribs of a building
     or caught between the jagged teeth of downtown;

here, in this city, where streets are littered with broken hearts
     and where you once loved me.

(Poem originally published in Westwind magazine in 2008.)

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