-- 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.
He rode “no hands,” speeding
headlong down the hill near
our house, his arms extended,
held rigid away from his body,
our small daughter behind him
on the bike in her yellow sunsuit,
bare-headed. She held on to him
for her life. I watched them from
above—helpless failed brake.
Far below us, a stop-sign rose
like a child’s toy shield. He could
not stop, he would not. That hunger
for display over-rode danger, illusions
of safety. Even death had less to do
with it than the will’s eventual triumph
over stasis: how he’d finally fly free
and how she might accompany him,
as an audience travels with a performer,
an object of regard. Downward, fast—
so what cannot stop holds on, holds on
in a mind flying away from itself, seeking
release from the soul speeding away, yet
staying close as breath, even at this distance.