These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing or next to nothing,
If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
You knew me, but could you have known this?
How we would loop digitized Christmas carols out lit store windows
While our schizophrenics and crazies gestured outside to no one in particular?
How we would walk in the sweat of pregnant Filipinos and barely adult Taiwanese?
How we would fill the earth with our refuse, how we would tame rivers with concrete?
How we would kill a quarter million by dropping one bomb,
How we would drop another bomb, and kill another quarter million.
Walt, did they tell you we are perishing in Pershing? We are homeless in Hollywood, frail on Fairfax, we are beggars in Westwood?
Here where grass never grew until aqueducts were planted, hundreds of miles of lifelines still hidden, barely inscribed in the speedbumps on Mulholland drive.
How “exploration” and “discovery” would not unite us, would not tend us inward toward each other and ourselves, but would rearrange the bodies of slaves and ultimately drive our daily lives apart? Now it is an insult to presume to contain those multitudes, their struggles one and the same in an historical, causal sense, yet mutually and utterly foreign. Did they tell you we would forge foreignness at every turn, we would create aliens, we would deport intimacy? That the rushing squaw would no longer be invited in?
I will be your answerer. And the song will be funereal, a tribute to the America you dreamt, who sings yet in death.
Surely there must be something of worth here, behind locked doors, where people finger their crotches and watch the Sopranos, or put on a Radiohead album and navigate the hills, or dig surfboards out of the trash and ride them once more…
Some say we are lost, and I will not say that.
I do not succumb to endless entertainment, and I do more than consume. I contain and do not consume all those who do more than consume. We still dream.
The tagger fidgeting in still-creased jeans, as nervous as a prom date
The commuter turning the dial
The car sales-man
The old punter persisting without hurrah
The chain mail basketball hoops
The cashiers laughing and rearranging the gum
The soccer players with their shins colorfully covered
You write out of New York, in a time of optimism,
I write out of Los Angeles, in a time of fear.
I know that you are deathless,
I know that the sun does rise,
And that I too am deathless,
And that I too could die.
You rise anew in skyscrapers and palms.
I believe anew in psalms; how a thought might collect
The whole world in its words.
The waitress with hot plates on her forearms
The truck driver on his first highway haul, holding a straight course as another truck passes.
I am with Britney Spears when she shaves her head in Sherman Oaks. I solemnly graze her scalp.
I thrust hips with the dykes and the fags when “Piece of Me’ comes on.
I leave a lock of Britney’s hair for a dumpster diver.
I am Los Angeles, and I elect to miscegenate. I know Wilshire and Normandie; I know 101 homeless shelters; I know Echo Park. And I say there can still be a kosmos.
There is no need for a “we are” when I am Los Angeles. I am an aftershock and yet a foreshock. Premonitory and vicious are my visions.
The whole world gazes me. They way they gaze is me. If they accept illusion, if they prioritize imagination, they gaze my way and I am that verb.
Not just the hills and cardboard sets relived in living rooms, but a dream ever magnifying, a katamari out of control.
Pornographic and ever lusting.
I will teach you the truths that must be pulled from orifices, the root-canal truths, the champagne cork truths. I will teach you the truths written peligroso in another language.
How one-hundred and one communities living in parallel can collide into the same bottleneck, necking and nursing, fucking, slumping, sleeping, getting drunk.
My maps will not show you where to interchange, the curve and skid of the exit, the unexpected merge. These truths grow like follicles out of my asphalt. “There is no there there” is blasphemy to the millions who dip and pivot precise. Blasphemy to the skid marks that end in fire and lights, and remain, dulled, in the daylight.
There we turned and turned, there we patiently waited, and there we died.
I supercede America.