-- Morituri te salutamus. Los Angeles Times, 1927 Maybe it's not the city you thought it was. Maybe its flaws, like cracks in freeway pylons, got bigger, caught your eye, like swastikas on concrete stacks. Maybe lately the dull astrologies of End, Millennium-edge rant about world death make sense. Look. Messages the dead send take time to arrive. When the parched breath of the Owens River Valley guttered out, real voices bled through the black & white. The newspaper ad cried, We who are about to die salute you. Unarmed, uncontrite. Gladiators: a band of farmers, entrenched. And how many on the Empire's side recognized the bitter history of that Bow? Greed drenches itself in a single element, unsurprised. Like strippers, spotlit. Tits and asses flash red-gold, while jets shriek above. Rim-shot. History, like a shadow, passes over a city impervious as a bouncer's shove to dreams. Images tell you what's imaginable. Here comes another ton. We bathe in what's re-routed from the source: a fable of endless water in a dipper made of tin.
When he appears, he looks into my eyes
With the gaze of a child missing a perfected
Will. Then, like a child, he moves suddenly—
Insisting on his own space, summoning up that
Odd power that makes us seem real to ourselves.
His life failed him. Fame, which he had in hand,
Failed him. He believed it was because he chose me.
When I catch or remember his ripped-from-pure-terror
Characters onscreen and off (murderer, father, diplomat)—
I get that he was always a version of the liability of “us.”
He comes to me alone in dreams, spinning into a glimpse
Of such blue-eyed hate it might have been love—O
I was never sure of that living kid on the lit stage,
Floating now into the twentieth year of his death.