April 16, 2014

Joseph Lapin

      —After Frank O’Hara

how sad you are today Long Beach
like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront
tough menacing and full of broken dreams

here I have worked at a school teaching words
(so many words) to Korean students
who look back at me with blank stares
and then I take pictures with university presidents
(smile and nod) for foreign brochures
because all I want is a house in the hills
and you decorating it
where even the sound of traffic is the ocean
not us pretending so we can sleep
and we would sleep in the sun
with the beach bums bronzing and baking
for the entire day (what a day that would be)

now I walk my dog and the sky is so blue
the people on the sidewalk bleed into concrete
there’s Frank O’Hara
he’s out walking the streets too
poking fun at the men wearing ties
driving and driving and driving
I just took off my tie to set things I see to words
and O’Hara is now with me
staring into the mirror in my new apartment
asking me to accept this foolish and free
and the streets are full of musicians with guitars
strapped to their backs
who are mistaken for gangsters
why not

our new LBC apartment was vacated by a fighter pilot
who moved closer to his base
because gas was so expensive
even the soldiers who give their lives and mind
need gas to run and money to feed
and all those liars in the pockets of politicians
the United States is second to China
not that we care (we will always be winning)

but the waves will always crash on the beach
next to a kid playing in the sand
so I can imagine I am young again
and forget we are tiny atoms

oh god it’s wonderful
to walk in the steps
of dead men and women
and read their voices
engraved with a stick in the pavement

Joseph Lapin a journalist, poet, and author living in Los Angeles. His writing has appeared at the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, LA WeeklyThe Rattling Wall, and others. He is the founder of Rockwell's Camera Phone and the host of The Working Poet Radio Show. He blogs at josephalapin.com

1 comment:

J said...

J'habite à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Et chaque soir, j'ai rendez-vous avec Verlaine
Ce vieux pierrot n'a pas changé
Et pour courir le guilledou près de la Seine
Souvent l'on est flanqué d'Apollinaire
Qui s'en vient musarder chez nos misères
C'est bête, on voulait's'amuser
Mais c'est raté, on était trop fauchés