Flowers of Rad

I want to write a poem as long as California
like lying on a couch forever
as a serious man takes notes on your dreams in a little book
maybe I mean I want to talk forever
but is there even a difference anyway
like my uncle who went walking
and never stopped
or that day on the LA Freeway
when a horse got loose, people freaking out 
cars honking and skidding 
and me and my sister rooting for the horse
who I still imagine, 20 years later
trotting around the LA Freeway
a living argument against time
as people drive right past her
without even noticing a horse 
she keeps on, at home in the gridlock
a phenomenon in the smog
we want to think she is looking for something
but she is past panic now
content, her heart a part of that freeway
unaware that I 
am the one telling this story
and in this version
no one listens to anyone’s dreams
and that couch is the one we broke off on
while your parents were gone 
blood on the cushion 
which wouldn’t come out
no matter what we tried
so we gave up 
and just laid there, sweating
in the bliss of thinking nothing
and somewhere 
a startled horse 
is not smashed by a semi
on the LA Freeway
on a summer day in 1988

Copyright © 2014 by Sampson Starkweather. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on March 12, 2014. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

About this Poem

“Pop Quiz: This poem is about: a.) A horse (possibly Mr. Ed). b.) A mashup of a Jack Spicer poem which ends by never ending, an amalgamation of several Larry Levis poems in which horses and L.A. feature prominently, mixed with early Wu Tang lyrics that eerily mirrored my teen existence. c.) My uncle who walked off into the Sonoran desert...who is still walking... d.) A signed confession of the defendant in the ongoing lawsuit of Time & The State of California vs. Sampson Starkweather and His Ridiculous Little Dreams e.) A not-so-subtle product placement for couches and the uselessness of truth. f.) The way L.A. in the eighties (especially from the point-of-view of two kids from North Carolina in the backseat of their grandparent’s Lincoln Continental) was like a backdrop for a movie about L.A. in the eighties, impossibly cliché—hookers and poodles, hot pink sunsets and palm trees—an elaborate play with set design and costumes and extras all put on exclusively for those two kids in the backseat on their way up a state that never ends, past twisted manzanita where ranch-red earth meets lush impossible green in a choked and tortured air where everything seemed to be the new end of desire, where wanting was a way life lived secretly in the backseats of the world, which would be lost in the matrix of memory only to tumble out on the other side as misremembered magic.”
—Sampson Starkweather