Issue X, Volume IV : June 2013
Suzanne Lummis is the director of The Los Angeles Poetry Festival, an executive board member of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice , and the Southern California editor for a new literary magazine from New Mexico, Malpais Review. She comes out of the famous CSU-Fresno writing program where she studied with Philip Levine, Charles Hanzlicek, and Peter Everwine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ce-deeESM0 or: http://www.poetry.la/ -- Recent Video Interviews) . Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines in the U.K., U.S., and Mexico, including The Hudson Review, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The New Ohio Review, the national UK newspaper, The Independent, and the March 2010 issue of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Her collection, In Danger, is still available for a price, sometimes a small price. Through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, she teaches the poem noir as well as the less shady poetic sensibilities.
It wasn’t the press of brakes, cry
of metals un-forgiving each other—no.
It was that delirious and slow plowing
headlong into and past Traffic Light,
Street Lamp, then the disruption
of Parked Truck, that got me out of bed
and down four flights of stairs, onto
the street. Fast. The rubble of smashed
glass makes the sidewalk shine. The traffic
light's lying knocked flat. One
cop car stopped behind the spot,
the other's in pursuit—the kid hit
the ground and took off. By foot.
Everyone's drained out of the Donut Shop,
the Armenian dance hall, Owl Drugs—
homeboys in T-shirts and blue tattoos.
In L.A. it gets like this at night—
hot. We stare at the parked truck
that got punched from the back, then
at the criminal car. Under the flung hood
the motor stamps and steams. Look
at that bumper, we yell, that twisted wheel!
And the glove compartment's sprung, so
the deeds of legal ownership drift
out the driver side. The driver door's
bent wild. It's, like, so ajar. It's like
Chamberlain's sculptures from crushed cars.
Here is the art of disaster, the art
of the split-second fatal bad choice.
I know how our mistakes change
the shape of things but to look
at the twists and turns the kid put
in this Ford coupe you'd think
what he wanted, really, was to make
a crazy staircase and climb up.
O Best Beloved, they're true, those tales
come down to us from Way
Then. In The Age of Money the money
vanished—overnight it did, as if
vacuumed through a funnel into deep space.
No one had it, the money. It didn't stew
in a bank or go forth and multiply.
Buried in the yard of the mad man it was not,
nor bent into wads and stuffed
in the robber's pocket. It had not burned,
had not melted; no guttering molecules slid
back to earth, their nuclei hot and
circling the memory of money.
O Best, it went Gone. It went Ain't. It went
as if it had not been, as if our lives
had been nothing but dreamt things
and we weren't even the primary dreamers.
Beloved, now dream again. It's late.
Close your eyes and think of that enchanted time
when money flowed from our palms like
blood through our veins. Then dream
of The Age Before That, when we had only
to point and golden fruit dropped
to our hands. And the most ancient
of all realms, imagine: The Era of Wands.
We waved them and, Lo, it appeared—
whatever we longed for.
And we never went hungry yet, somehow,
we always felt hunger, for there was always
more where that came from, and always
we wanted more.
Fragment Ending with 19 Words from Delmore Schwartz
For the air some flavor, citrus
or mint, not ash, not crust,
for the tongue a brightness,
somewhere the ribboned carousel,
the arabesque, some low sweet
gondola under all this—this life—
some clear drinking spring, not
Shop, not Pay, but O My Love,
and Ever Arrival, Ever Letting
Go, newness upon newness,
and what swift one comes, or
slow, a rising to greet, sweet
thing or dark, a rising to face,
for always that soft thorn
of the self, star-like, core-lit,
shall ignite us alive—
some other world, some world
of goodness, some other life,
some life where the nobility
we admire is lived.
Photo by Heather Wynters
Photo by Heather Wynters