If you’re experiencing a sense of Déjà vu, the following selection for Poetry Monday comes to you from the archives.
There is no question that Southern California is a car culture. Visitors who come here for the first time are often amazed (and frustrated) that it’s almost impossible to get around the city without access to an automobile. Until I moved here, I managed to survive quite nicely without owning a motor vehicle. My favorite poet has escaped from the auto-centered life style to Paris, a city that provides excellent means of mass transit, and where he now resides without that California icon, the car. However, before departing from here, he penned the following poem, capturing the flavor of that favorite youthful pastime, going out for a spin.
a little red hatchback gleams like a scarab in the desert
burning through the Alemeda corridor
down the freeway-wide surface streets
with Gothic-steel factories pluming white into the white
white that the falling sun will soon ignite into stained glass
yellows and oranges.
but for now the car cuts through the enfolding haze
then out of the industrial and into the lower-rung commercial
with liquor stores and blacks and Mexicans crowding the bus stops
marginalized, problematized, by money or lack thereof.
it is late summer afternoon on the western side of LA County
where the asphalt meets the ocean
and the red hatchback dodges smoothly through thickening
like a ruby sifting through gravel
flashing under the California sun.