Los Angeles poems for three pictures

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1. Direction//

Early morning

blue smoke cries

its way through

your manhole covers;

Exhale. You see it all –

the up close view of crumbling curb-face,

the topple-down effect of squabbling fools



like March in May Day,






There was 6 days to Watts’ ‘65;

King and “Black Korea” scorching,

‘92 on Florence and Normandie;

An (un)armed


and nothing

except guilty,

homage took a section of interstate 10 in ‘13.


You saw

the relocation

of Chinatown,

it reduced to 24 blocks and

3 main plazas of diminishing vitality


Its consequence –

displacement and

the ‘37 construction of Union Station

where shuffling,


feet park their carted wounds

against the backdrop of harassing police.


Debris dancing along your cracks,

while vibrating streets

devour the hollow space of tunnels below



you are confused



into unrelenting noise and

noxious smoke;

Point both left and straight;

Direct everything

from tricycles to

double-decker buses;

Run tourists to Hollywood and

steer others to onramp

their triangular routes

that always begin with you



Then to the IE,

then to Nevada,

then back to the city

where crayon skies melt

kissing your ubiquitous nature

hardened and

slickened with wear

faded now

and called asphalt


James Moreno."Old and Dilapidated Hollywood Sign from the Late 70s." Web.
James Moreno.”Old and Dilapidated Hollywood Sign from the Late 70s.” Web.

2. Signing//

A sign from above, brighter than sunlight. You are the epitome of US optimism, what C. Rankine nuzzles between a filtering-liver-failure and the soul. Sirius, Canopus, Alpha Centauri; Stardom.

Soon to be talkies. Soon to be Katharine Hepburn’s feminism in pants and Sydney Poitier reinscribing race over dinner. Soon to be Marlon Brando via Sacheen Littlefeather declining an Oscar and Johnny Depp turned Tonto, veritably streaked in black and white. Iconoclastic. Reception in 3D and Technicolor. Camera, action, shoot is what we’ll do for our right to unremitting hope, like during Pearl Harbor when servicemen replaced your movie sets and big names entertained a nation into convulsions.

Our faith and worship is transcendental.

When you stumbled between ‘48 and ‘50, there was still a dream of an illusion waiting. Think Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, John Belushi and Chris Farley, or

Peg Entwistle jumping to her death from the letter H in ‘32, or
the arson fire in the ‘70s that singed the letter L, or
the entire 3rd O careening down Mt. Lee.

Then forget the endless figurative meaning because we promote the idea that everyone can. Probabilities are high. And right there next to the taunting glow of pure white aluminum lights and 24/7 electronic surveillance of the Hollywood sign, we can call our gods and they will answer.

Chiwan Choi. "Vista dtla." (Facebook)
Chiwan Choi. “Vista dtla.”

3. Take It//


they pry open

my lids wanting to

paint their sky my colors


Hands grope for

clouds but miss

against a fleeting landscape



they scrape my coats,

thick and viscous

like reluctant residue of a dying decade;

they splatter my gradations against a manmade wall


You can still name me Art –

Nouveau, Deco, avant-garde,

found in the crux of machines and commodity,

geometric boldness and

jarring right angles of a 50s despondency


Shadowed beneath my plastic drums are

nature renounced to nostalgia for

alkyd and enamel



Our walls are lacquered,

protected in high-gloss finish and

reflecting the image of progress;

At our worst we can eclipse the moon


We rattle

thin wires

between our teeth,

bent to the taste of metal;

But I await with

my 52 shades of

blue t0 calm your

infinite yellows,

ready to find improved vision and

new shades of green because

a landscape is always reimagined  






1) Chiwan Choi. “6:30 dtla.” Facebook.

2) James Moreno.”Old and Dilapidated Hollywood Sign from the Late 70s.” Web.

3) Chiwan Choi. “Vista dtla.” Facebook.