Poetry Thursday: Los Angeles, dammit

plane landing at LAX in the gloaming

You could be sad
somewhere else, maybe,
but here?
Surrounded by darkened mountains
dotted with the fairy lights
of a thousand houses on stilts?
Flying through the night
on doo-wop and dinosaur bones,
windows down,
spring-into-early-summer air
whipping your pigtails
into whirligig frenzy?
Here? In this temporarily
frozen slice of endless possibility
tinged with pleasure?

Not here.

You come for a stretch, I know,
a season of pilots,
a trip down to Disneyland
and back up to Yosemite,
a trek to the beach
to watch the freaks,
a spin up to the aeries,
or down into the valleys,
to gawk at the stars.

And
if you never find
yourself behind the wheel
at night,
rolling down the 405,
up the 2,
around the curve
that gives you a 360 view
of crappy Los Angeles,
whipping it into
a froth of wonder
so goddamn majestic
your heart could break
if it didn’t swell properly,
if you never do that,
well, then, friend,
back to the East,
or the Lakes,
or whatever Great-White-North
baked-desert-rock
Old-World-wise
side of the planet
you may return.

But if you would
wish yourself back,
stay off that freeway
after hours,
when the magic is strong
and the sirens’ song, true,
or L.A.
will make you her bitch.

xxx
c

Image by jondoeforty1 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

4 comments

  1. chills.
    for real.

    Every year the hubster and I drive down to San Diego (from Vancouver) to visit my brother. The trip has a soundtrack – when we hit LA it’s Lyle Lovett – LA county, “And the lights of LA county are like diamonds in the sky, when you’re driving through the hours with an old friend by your side”. Nevermind what the song is really about – those lines make it worth it.

    Now I would like an audio of you reading this poem to add to my soundtrack.

    1. Yeah. The first time I really listened to “L.A. County” was a shocker. Kinda like the first time I really listened to “Alison.” A fine musical tradition, the psycho-spurned-lover song.

      (Thanks for the kind words, though—truly!)

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