Leaving LA

Set off on my road trip back to the east coast today and figured I’d do some light blogging as a capstone to this blog, which has lain dormant for a year and is going into retirement once I arrive in Boston.  For today, here’s a short prose poem I wrote about Los Angeles a few months ago when I was returning there instead of leaving.

City of Angels

Ah the city of angels, where the devil is the landlord: it’s good to be home.

Sweet bitter city, sweet sunny paradise, inextricably interleaved with such pungent purgatory, casting cancerous contaminated clouds of smog into a climate already so mild and consistent as to be narcotic, and in the chemical confusion producing a regional opium den in which we all sprawl under a dazzling chandelier and stare balefully at the ceiling, dulled and hazy, if we keep our eyes open at all.

It is then we see this urban tumor pulsing beneath the glamour and allure of a carefree seaside vision. This imagination industry, this dream factory, this machine within the ghost, grinding up idealists for fuel to produce illusory magic and scintillating baubles that jangle and entertain and oil the gears, lining the pockets of the capital bankrollers who coast about in their sleek automobiles on the congested freeways to some hillside Shangri-la, where the view extends past the paved expanse of mechanical society in which the dreamers toil to eye through the noxious curtain, from a great height, the gentle promises made on the Pacific at sunset, where and when the heavenly father kisses the mother earth on her glistening mouth nightly and swears to her that he will come back again someday, if we her children have but the patience and the courage to survive the cold arid dark by our lonesome.

And the city does survive, if not patiently then because it dares, because we have polluted the desert with our brilliance. We dance defiantly in the dark so that in this beautiful ugly tangled contradiction of a town, we can make like daddy and kiss the world goodbye with all the passion and romance of Rick letting go of Elsa in Casablanca, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1942.


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