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Our weekly poetry feature brings Los Angeles to life through the words of artists spanning every part of the metropolis.

  • Culture & MediaJuly 18, 2013adminsm

    Anyone’s Son

     

    — for the family of Trayvon Martin

    This poem wants to write itself backwards.
    Wishes it were born memory instead, skipping

    time like a record needle stuck on the line
    of your last second. You sit up. Brush not blood,

    but dirt from your chest. You sit up. You’re in bed.
    Bad dream. Back to sleep. You sit up. Rise and shine.

    Good morning. This is the poem of a people united
    in the uniform of your last day. Pockets full

    of candy, hooded sweatshirt, sweet tea. This poem
    wants to stand its ground, silence force

    with simple words, pray you alive, anyone’s
    son — tall boy, eye-smile, walk on home.

    ——————————————————–——————————————————–

    Tara Skurtu is a Teaching Fellow at Boston University, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellow and recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize.

     » Read more about: Anyone’s Son  »

  • Culture & MediaJuly 11, 2013adminsm

    The Face on the Radio

    Helicopters hover like hellish hogs
    of Armageddon:
    an infra-red shakedown.
    We are the enemy, the face on the radio;
    burnt petals cluttering the sidewalk.
    We are daylight’s demise, dancing between
    discord & distrust.  All is bitter harvest,
    betrayal and bewilderment;
    all is seed for the fields of retreat:

    bullets punctuate every poem.

    ——————————————————–

    Source: Trochemoche, published by Curbstone Press (1998).

    Luis Rodrίguez has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award, and a Paterson Poetry Book Prize. He is best known for the 1993 memoir of gang life, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (paperback by Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster).

     » Read more about: The Face on the Radio  »

  • Culture & MediaJune 20, 2013adminsm

    Ode to 7-Eleven

    How are you tonight, 7-Eleven? with your smell
    of departure and annoyance, your white bread, your drain cleaners,
    your puddings, your cockroaches fanning out over the parking lot
    like glossy marzipan soldiers lugging fearsome shadows.
    It must be lovely to watch for dawn
    coming over the EverTrust Bank and the Chevron station,
    it must be trying
    for the lively man with the turban (sales associate #33323)
    to hang out with the seven moving objects of the sky,
    the eleven ounces of the heart
    and the sturdy sixteen-year-olds
    picking their noses by the soda fountain.
    7-Eleven—benign, broad-minded firebrand of night—
    the great inward journey begins with you,
    inexhaustible Christmas of green red orange HELP
    WANTED Do we think we understand you, 7-Eleven? How sweet
    the industrious freezer, the implacable milk,
    the pounds of glaze,

     » Read more about: Ode to 7-Eleven  »

  • Culture & MediaJune 14, 2013Capital & Main

    Five Poems the Next Mayor Should Read

    Words of Fire, the Frying Pan’s new poetry section debuted this week with a series poems the new mayor should read.

    These five poems by some of L.A.’s finest poets are intended to help Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti look closely at our city and listen with care to its diverse voices, from janitors to sidewalk fruit sellers to donut shop insomniacs. They are also an antidote to the platitudes of the campaign trail, and a reminder that the best political speech – and acts – can tap into people’s deepest emotions and aspirations.

     

    A Model of Downtown Los Angeles, 1940

    by 

    The oldest Mercedes in California adorns

    the crowded foyer of the L.A. County Museum

    of Natural History, and babies shriek like bats

    in the elevator that lowers my daughter

    and me to the basement….

     » Read more about: Five Poems the Next Mayor Should Read  »

  • Terminus_of_LA_Aqueduct-525x385.jpg Terminus_of_LA_Aqueduct-525x385.jpg
    Culture & MediaJune 13, 2013Capital & Main

    A Model of Downtown Los Angeles, 1940

    It’s a bright, guilty world.

    –Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai

     

    But there is no water.

    –T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

     

    The oldest Mercedes in California adorns

    the crowded foyer of the L.A. County Museum

    of Natural History, and babies shriek like bats

    in the elevator that lowers my daughter

    and me to the basement.  There, among the faint,

    intermingled drifts of ammonia and urine

    from the men’s room, phantom display lights

    luring the shadows over the inventions of Edison

    and Bell, and dusty monuments to a century

    of industrial progress, lies the mock-up L.A.,

     

    whose perusal has been assigned to my daughter’s

    fourth-grade class in California history.

     » Read more about: A Model of Downtown Los Angeles, 1940  »

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