One day, lions strode through the
Streets of Los Angeles.
Not literary lions, real lions,
They softened the streets.
Swollen, moved as the LA River
Might. Purred and cooed with cubs.
Some strode on other lions' backs
And leapt to edges of garages.
Knocked over blue green and black
Trash cans. They chewed shrubs.
They brushed up against cars and
Rubbed elbows with each other.
They sweated. They nuzzled crotches.
They never roared.
The lions ate carrots, Kalamata olives,
French Fries, like Los Angelenos.
Three or four craved to carve a man
But were caught in traffic at Flower.
Liontraffic. They pined for sand.
They had no king. In the main,
The lions were very nice.
Lions lie beyond the boulevard.
After that area
What lions are,
Their airy lair,
So many things require a slip of paper
in their place. Clever systems, gestures
to the lender. Sometimes I forget their placement
matters, as does the time passing between returns.
In stories, you double speak to me. My neck
cranes toward the black-and-white familiars,
and not, as you said, the finer words.
Though we differ, we might also correspond.
Dear sir, it has been a warm winter.
Some stay home, others stray there,
and beneath the leaves, hide the birds.
Elsewhere in the yard, Hydrangeas dry
in lacy globes still as sleeping infants’ fists.
They lend themselves to me, old petals, ugly
handfuls. They are the previous summer’s deposit,
like the ivy singing on the wall.
Words from a Debate
I couldn’t keep my fingers off
the fellow’s face
I bend back leaves, push others forward.
Several times I’ve moved through this patch,
found myself embracing briars, leaving there
and there a scratch on the arm or at the collar.
I choose my work and its odd, sweet rewards: some berries,
full and ready, and others grieving from branches. Each day
I sin against the birds, and nightly I hide my head in the straw.
Regret is what the shed is for, and so said
I remember an old friend and his tense expressions.
His was a gruesome cloud cover,
a berry patch the red birds picked over.
Every slant of light engages you (I'm certain).
Fall saw you grow taller by it; in winter
you swore the sun was brighter
and for it there was no surrogate.
Halls of cases, poorly lit, display excerpts
of a journal, and the highlight, a first edition.
Also turtles, live, and far from their islands.
This exhibit is a deep rest
for pages from turning, for
the animals, a more lively habitat—
each is an underscore of underpinnings. (Or
at least we depend on it.)
We also believe that light travels. It’s
no wonder when we see it, already here
and reaching back to where it left.
all that i know
is my mom made me
then i remember snow
w/blood on it
then more savage flakes
my tooth disgusted her
as with all things used
she threw them out
all my teeth
& it always snowed
she threw out snow
white pages of unused stationery
thick which i ferreted
from the bin to draw on
till caught and she flayed
me & threw
my skin out
& now paper aches
& i must spill enough
ink to cover the blood
that coursing reminder
that it always snows
It is the edges of things I love so well
And the meetings where glue and stitching
Come together or pull apart.
I remember her dress with all those laces
Criss crossing over the rise of her breasts
How she loosened them till nearly undone.
That moment sticks me to the remembering place
It is gone and there is nothing and her dress,
Were it here, would collapse like a sail
The wind gone and the halyard torn
So I trace the place on the floor where it fell
Avoiding ventures within a tracing's midst
It is the edges of things i love so well.
William O’Hara is a poet who lives in Los Angeles.
Frank Arthor Drake is a musician and poet living in Brookline, Massachusetts.