Los Angeles Seen by Night and From a Great Distance

On Hollywood & Vine
The horizontals sun themselves
Speculating on johns & credits,
& Percentages of the gross –
Pitchmen taking Communion.
O Lord, grant me points!

Time to take the ambitious world
With its mad angels,
To a power breakfast.
A celebrity mad mad mad world
Is supported on the backs of monsters,
Skeletons of visions
Yet to be seen,
Tho it’s not the monsters we fear;
It’s the angels.
Why do we hate our saints?

Bela Lugosi in The Apeman
Resembles Rasputin,
That crazed corrupt monk
Who was almost impossible to kill.

Man into angel; angel into beast;
Plants into soul-eating animals,
One more round robin

Of transubstantiation comes bob-bobbin’ along,
Roman Polanski, who is no saint, insists“There’s no more beautiful city in the world.
Provided it’s seen by night
And from a distance.”

Seen by night & from a distance,
Say from L.A. to Manhattan.
King Kong,
That crazed & uncorrupt monk
(All right, giant ape)
Does not look so bad.

In the City of Angels,
Smog beats its wings
Like a demonic Guy de Maupassant.
I shall end my life in this asylum,
Babbling contents of my heart
Into columns for Variety.

L.A. Confidential:
Rat-a-tat-tat. The House that Oscar built.
An Academy Award for singing
Baby It’s Cold Outside.
How useful it must be
To tell the visible rulers of the world
From one another.

 
 

Nobody Out There is Going to Like This

Enough already
With all these swizzle stick blues,
Self pitying convenient parking
Next to the down-trodden
Sobbing garage.
All that grease spilled for nothing.

The bullying days
With their brute force
Ride rough shod over us. Nothing to be done
But to stay the course.
No more dialing for dolors,

But let’s blow smoke
Up somebody’s knickers,
Crop dusting acres
Of love, lust, and all that jive.
There is a riddle that goes:
What is the animal that eats us alive?

The answer is: Time.
Amen, brothers. Amen, sisters.
The veins of electricity
Are opening up, waiting for us to bleed.
You say: “But Time isn’t an animal.”
I say: “You haven’t lived long enough.”

 
 

Classic Case

“He turned out to be a classic case of the young man
who ‘wants to write.”
Anthony Powell on Nathanael West

One more crime against Humanity:
Tuesday night on Grub Street,
Scribbling Hordes
Descending upon Sennarcherib:
What did we do that was so wrong?
There were poisons to be cleansed,
Joys to be rehearsed &
If all other planets,
With ice-caps or frozen water,
Were indifferent to our offerings—
Well, how cd. That matter?
Articulated galaxies
Revolved around us.
All we wanted to do was write.You wd. have thought
We had murdered somebody.

 
 

Is Poetry a Ticket for Travel?

Poetry can transport you
From one dimension
Into another dimension
From False to True

& back again. One more
Twilight Zone
To roast a hare in,
Whisking you from one place to another,

Faster than any Greyhound Bus.
A moment ago you were thinking
About sex,
& now you are still thinking

About sex
But in a very different state.
Of course, Poetry

THIS
IS
YOUR
RECEIPT
AND
IS
NOT A
TICKET
FOR
TRAVEL

cannot do everything.

Louis Phillips, an impressively prolific poet, playwright, and short  story writer, has written some 50 books for children and adults.  Among his numerous published works are A Dream of Countries  Where No One Dare Live (short stories, SMU Press) Hot Corner, (a  collection of his baseball writings), and The Krazy Kat Rag (poems,  Light Reprint Press). He also edited The Random House Treasury of  Best-Loved Poems and The Random House Book of Humorous  Verse. He is an instructor at the School of Visual Arts.