Wherever equanimity is hijacked by inequality, or the heart’s lull and hum becomes a jagged bone of contention. Wherever inspiration is traded for expiration, or atoms of grace are centrifuged into one feud after another. Wherever life’s breath root is cut from flowers of affection, or love’s architects are left dumbfounded when their homes have been burned down—that is where you’ll find a hint of humanity blooming through those leaves of grass as Walt Whitman’s beard points faithfully towards peace.
Down on Santa Monica & Wine, there are miracles and miseries, sirens and tattooed mysteries. Femme fatales whose luscious red lips sting like mercurochrome on love’s open wound. Blitzkrieg boppers swarm Hollywood Forever, rock with the ghost of Johnny Ramone. Santa Ana winds howl through alleyways, scatter wild juju like dice. Passive assassins kill you softly with sex and music in bliss beds rented by the hour. Psychic transmissions hum through phone lines of disease’s remission. The sleepless talk to the walls and dreamers talk to the stars. The Grim Reaper’s dressed in drag, the taste of apocalypse on his kiss. And everyone’s eyeball deep in some God-scavenged trash because sometimes life is most alive in those dark and greasy places peppered with a little heaven and hell.
It’s better to rock than be a rock. It’s preferred to go in peace than arrive in war. More fitting to fly on time than to watch time fly. Worthier to take the stairway to heaven than the highway to hell. It’s finer to carol in Carolina than karaoke in the Okefenokee. More desirable to be a maestro than a minus sign. More preferable to be dust in the wind than smoke on the water. More suitable to calm a cougar than make an antelope anxious. It’s quite improved to swoon by the spoon than die by the knife. More sophisticated to be a pocketful of change than a bank of stagnation. Better to suffer a dang storm than Sturm und Drang. It’s far worthier to be an unclear feather than a massive smart bomb.
Tendons of tender mercies. Blood of sea-swell and warm kitchen scents. Sighs like distant trains at night. Flesh like earth’s first cousin. Tree’s green tidings winding through our breath. Weed wanderings of wild emotions. Bones like dense bouquets of upright grace. Shadows and tombstones, chants and rants. Love’s keen spirit sailing around our bonfire hearts. In this way, we are one with everything that is.
The light and dark of this life—
honesty and heroism,
truth blindsided by a fog of lies.
Consciousness rising, optimism flailing.
Joy’s gigglesquirm burblings and grief’s deepweather chill to the bone.
Birdsong and lullabies, gundoom and suicides.
Music and lovemaking, death and heartbreak.
Dogs that are more like shrinks and priests that are more like creeps.
Convicts and derelicts, poetry and promises kept.
The lamentable mirrors that are sometimes our eyes when reflecting shared sorrows.
Our DNA exploding into a brilliant array of TNT Superfly dynamighty.
Into the lives of the wealthy and weary, the healthy and homeless, buddhists, brawlers, and churchgoers with shoes spit-shined to Sunday. Into the hearts of families and friends, caretakers and gravediggers, the warring, wounded, and those rolling along on rackety wheels of glad. Into the eyes of dogs and drunks, landlords and store clerks, the old, infirm, and young lovers loud and lavish at the borderlands of yes—the new glow of this lighted living sun.
Lost L.A. angels wander concrete arroyos, foreheads smudged with oleander and last-call barroom light:
discarded mistresses dragging bridal trains of old payphones and Venice Beach foam;
dime-a-dozen pretty boys danced into jazzless oblivions;
lean junky angels with bruises for tattoos, jonesing for the soothing blue song of flight.
A cologne of panic and sweat on their skin. A rising pressure in the throat that feels like a prelude to weeping.
Lost L.A. angels wander concrete arroyos, their spirits shedding one grief after another until they are nothing but flickering light,
ready for the movie of their new lives to finally begin.
If our cup is full, if the levees are strong. If the cathedrals of peace survive angry rifles. If hate ghosts away. If life is more than a double entendre. If tombstones don’t heckle us, if blood isn’t the ink we must use to sign our name. If jukeboxes don’t wear brass knuckles. If the elements in the periodic table of rock radiate neon beats. If the body contains a soul. If the soul is the land where our loved ones walk. If earth forgives our sins, if we forgive our failings. If the moon shows the rising sun what it is her body wants before leaving, then this new day will be a blessed one.
You’re an empty gas tank in the middle of the Mojave. A wannabe Obama with a freezer-burned heart. You’re sharp scissors in the hands of children. The bullet in a hater’s gun. You’re a fortune cookie with no fortune. The TV show that should’ve been canceled. You’re spinach stuck between smiling teeth. A suicide note written in invisible ink. You’ve got a Third Reich tattoo on your psyche. You’re toilet paper stuck to the bottom of a shoe. You’re every lousy poems I’ve ever written. You’re the one I still can’t call president.
On the frontlines and in foxholes, braving their lives to save ours, they’ve shown us how to soldier on. Bearing love letters in pockets, family photos in wallets. Bandages for the wounded, prayers for the dead. They’ve shown us how to soldier on. Enduring the cruel topography of foreign lands and the grim psychology of war. Cleaning weapons, pulling shrapnel from lingering fears. They’ve shown us how to soldier on. Ambushed and courage tested, bearing the weight of ghosts and grief. Witnessing moments that meant everything, and times when everything meant nothing. They’ve shown us how to soldier on.