Suicide Notes Left For Los Angeles (1-3)
by Michael D Smith
Suicide Notes Left for Los Angeles – No. 1
L.A. River a falsehood, drug-induced concrete arroyo, a bleak grandeur which humiliates my similarly rigid solo, stanza by stanza claiming the city, insanity. Wanda long gone, Bukowski a situation and not a mere man, Luis Rodriguez tall along with Natalie Diaz, J.P. Dancing Bear and other struggles, tribes and clubs and guns. Do your work. Sentiment is agriculture, said Farmer Synecdoche of the laboring hands, rough, muscular, pulling a chair up to the table for you to sit. Immigrants, yes, All language is spiritual here! says the voice inside my typewriter. Hypocrisy a bus ticket and a last kiss on the cheek. California refineries tower as gambling houses charm, redwood park benches are shaped to fit fat asses. Let’s remember the Central Valley and the Navy. Two Chinatowns. Mexico’s hot breath in our hair. It’s clear, no, emphatic: bored lovers on Xanax, medical weed, expense account. Where hotels never sleep and the bar is always open. Brassy pawned saxophones making love to snob pianos, the slightest smile returned by a knowing glance. Lights dim, a little smoke. No one here is checking the time. Perilous as an indoor swimming pool, days accidental, Los Angeles has stopped trying to be a Mark Jarman poem.
Suicide Notes Left for Los Angeles – No. 2
In school I had friends whose parents let Indian peacocks roam their back yards. Another passing California phase, piercing calls, green-eyed plumage fanned atop wooden suburban fences. Lawns fawned over by alcoholic fathers. No angels perched in our palm trees. It was later, at some beach or other—Huntington, Laguna, Redondo maybe, where lost spirits cluster in shorts and bikinis and sandy hats—that I called it what it was: black witchcraft. A Pacific sunset view opposed by stinking, mindlessly bobbing urban oil well pumps. Good looking people saying and doing terrible things. Neon blinking behind smog or fog, depending on time of day. Civilization was a movie theater. Assembled representation. Be seated: these are buttered popcorn anecdotes and drive-thru scenes, collaged by strangers somehow lonelier than yourself. Don’t hold still, I say, not for Elvis or Marilyn or compositions of color so beguiling you cry for hours remembering your childhood. Time to decontextualize—a hundred junkies for every church. Dexter Gordon in the wee hours bouncing notes off of dead whiskey bottles. Bebop a belonging. Bumming a smoke. Passing a joint. Gloom and ghetto and glamour our muses.
Suicide Notes Left for Los Angeles – No. 3
Catch a cab at the airport, give the Lebanese driver the Santa Monica address. I, poor pilgrim of sorrow, like an unemployed Richard Gere, have nowhere else to go. Night hovers cold over desert to the east. When it collapses into the L.A. River, ambling at the coast, climbing though windows in suburban valleys, it means to conceal. Her apartment door is tagged Spanish red and green, knob newly replaced, complemented with a fist-sized hole. Tawny plants sag in little pots by the stair rails. Night runs straight to the door when it opens, and a sweet hashish fog rolls around her finely glazed face. I follow her silhouette. Like Dennis Hopper’s ghost, I’ve played every fair in this part of the country. The floor laughs, low, delirious, as I boot empty beer bottles in the living room. Groggy gray figures speckle sofa and chairs along the way. Wall sockets sigh. Light bulbs drowse, fulvous, dream of flying everywhere at once, like the pale memory of sunlight. Red-eyed kitchen table caterpillars, worming in haze, pass a pipe, and I drag long, faze into a zone once left behind, where I find an old self, not waving but frowning, who shivers in the heart of his late scrim day.
Michael Dwayne Smith is most recently author of the poetry collection Roadside Epiphanies (Cholla Needles Press, 2017). Nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, his work haunts hundreds of literary houses--such as The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Star 82 Review, Blue Fifth Review, Gravel, Word Riot, San Pedro River Review, Chiron Review--and has been widely anthologized. He lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued animals.