My L.A.

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You don’t have to love L.A.,
but you have to love the idea of it,
where the average Joe & Josephine’s
hyper-realism meets the mundane,
America’s off-kilter vision
of business-as-usual passing
momentarily for a happening scene

& all those highways—named free
as if anything really is—going
in any direction you could point to.
The goal is to get there—somewhere,
anywhere—faster than is reasonable
& expecting acclaim or a prize
for your efforts is energy wasted.

I was there once, hitchhiking in
from a stretch posing as a tourist
in the badlands east of Eden.
I landed somehow in Pasadena,
where I sidled into a silvery Stingray,
its owner a tanned poster child
for the middle-aged good life,
& felt enobled without even trying.
I was looking for Venice, the address
scrawled on my wrist, & ready
for all kinds of surprises
found it nothing close to home.

But that’s the point, someone said
at a sprawling beach party
lit by bonfires. It wasn’t being given
for me & the next morning, the coals
still glowing, revelers struggled
to recall how they got there
& with whom. This is my L.A.,
I decided, flashing my best
newcomer’s smile at everyone
who passed, to do with what I wish.