Flight: Three Poems about Los Angeles by Steve De France

Living on Ocean Boulvard
This Number is Disconnected
Angels of the Night

She dances naked in her yard.
Cranks her music up & prances around
pretending to be Isidore Duncan.
Wakes the whole building at 8 AM
Later on, as I pass her door in the
hall, I hear her weeping.
Plaintive animal keenings.
Just got her Masters degree in English.
Unemployed, unemployable.
Writes rhyming poetry.

Later on, two guys
get into a fist fight,
well sorta.
Pushing and shoving.
One got locked out:
stood in the hall crying,
pounding on the door.
Wanted their child: a kitten.
Both write greeting card poetry.

Rick’s the manager of this building.
A burnt out druggie. An old red-neck hippie.
Drives a beat-to-shit 4-cylinder
Toyota pick-up truck.
No registration, no tags.
Totally illegal.
No job. No past
he wants to talk about.
Still
adult children
keep arriving.
Mostly
by surprise.
He receives mail
under several names.
A likable guy.
Started writing poems, too.
Dead rhymers.

I’m at the mail boxes.
The IRS wants more money:
2400 dollars.
Rejections: the New Yorker
& the Atlantic.
Both want poems with lines
without so many words in them.
Thinner lines, not so fat.
I’m wondering if anybody
but suckers writes poetry,
when Gloria shows up behind me.

Six months ago,
Out on the board walk
I gave her a dollar.
She followed me home.
Ever since she shows up
every couple of months.
Just catches me.
Puts the bite on me,
like today.
She needs food.
Moving upwind of her,
I slip her a couple of bucks.
She smiles, then heads back
toward the L.A. River.
She lives there in the rocks.
In a tent made from plastic sheeting.
Sleeps on a flophouse mat.
Ocean view and outdoor plumbing.
She writes romantic poetry.

© 2016 Steve De France

Kelly Cole, illegitimate son
of the famous crooner
Nat King Cole, is dead of AIDS.
We first met at the falcon’s cage
at the Museum of the Desert
in Palm Springs. Good looking, thin,
wearing jodhpurs, riding horses,
playing polo, driving a Mercedes.
We talked poetry. Eliot, Pound,
Hopkins & Thomas.

Yes,
We were people of the poem.
Special souls. Always alone.

He went to France
to drink sacred waters
that promised a cure.

A Republican.
He loved men and women alike.
Didn’t tell them he was infected
with the virus. He had his own don’t
ask‑don’t tell policy.

He drove down to Long Beach.
I told him I wasn’t looking for a lover,
but a perfect poem, one with the final word;
the faultless phrase, like a Euclidian
line disappearing at the horizon,
or like the great reverberation
of the C major chord
sounding in all parts of the world
at the same time.
In short, a poem that eats your heart
not your private parts.
He laughed.
So, we talked about poetry instead.
He read me parts of his unfinished book.
Abstract and unknowable.
He left at three in the morning.
Called a few times, late at night.
Lonely to hear a word or two.
Died a few months later,
his book unfinished.

So Kelly, this one, I finished for you.

© 2016 Steve De France

I drive back to tinsel town on Sunset Boulevard.
Hollywood—a town with its legs wide open,
An American landscape where fast food swathes
the night sky with burning cow flesh. Lowered
cars gyrate, rumble, boom, and with darkened windows,
prowl among fleshy bistros teeming with stale sex,
XXX rated movies, and unlive sex acts.

L.A. is the gun waiting to go off in your face.
Angels of the night linger on street corners,
as streets crawl with immigrants, domestic freaks,
and Zoo People from Montana—here to touch
Bogart’s wig—or Monroe’s wax breast.

All have vaguely heard an ancient culture
plans to kill them. They feel distantly restless.

Still they consume all things plastic,
knowing less than more is always nothing.

At times they laugh uncontrollably.

©2016 Steve De France

 

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Bio: Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in America, England, Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in both 2002 and 2003. Recent publications include The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Ambit, Atlantic, Clean Sheets, Poetrybay, Yellow Mama and The Sun. In England he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.” In the United States he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.” His play THE KILLER had it’s world premier at the GARAGE THEATRE in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006). He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing. Most recently his poem “Gregor’s Wings” has been nominated for The Best of The Net by Poetic Diversity.

 

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