Poetry – The Death of Venice

by Blake Abramovitz


Pit bulls kick up dirt engoldened by
the sun, honey to sooth broken
streets of Lexus hybrids and
homeless clowns. Princes sheathed in denim
stagger past out-of- work shamans who hunch
over guitars to rasp their bright
laments: Teenage cops, killings,
a new
apartheid. American

flags jerk, horses’ tongues
flailing, skaters roar radioactive Cool, and I

drive street to street,
dreaming again my old dream of
Venice—Venice, where my
raggedy soul
was born.


A lone festival wind totters through the dusk
under dying palms and the glare of Hollywood
movie shoots. Mad with thirst for
friendship, God, it cartwheels down Rose, up
Windward, over soil of Gashouse, Hopper,
Jim, poets of a
magic bleeding town— searches

between yoga parlors and
cocaine shanties,
gang tags and
one percenters,
between a Bhakti yogi’s prayer and
the embers of our city.

Raccoons peer from crevices
where they huddle in patched sleeping bags,
but when the sky wilts purple they
stride onto the road to stand
naked beneath streetlamps, pale
bruised sentinels.
The wind folds into shapes of
a busker and mandolin,
and together, grieving carolers, they cry:


“O Saints of Exhale, Full Circle, Rama:
Are your seas lagoons for scarred ships?
Are your hearts filled with broken seagulls?

“O crucified poets, meditators, agitators:
Who will stand for adoration?
Who will drive Google and Reddit
from our streets?”

Through chapped whiskered lips the city sings:

“Who are we, who are we, to ask this of you?
We have no names, are only voices,
but still we ask:

“O daughters, lovers, sons;

“O ghost pianist of the Sidewalk Cafe, hammering at
your keys till they splinter across the twilight shore,
O Sixth Street painter topless and paintspattered on your
brown lawn not giving a damn,
O exhalation of dispensary weed cohered into
Christ and lumbering across the waves;

“O baroque literati snug in your aeries of words, scribbling onto
paper already incinerated to ash,
O track mark juvie crash landed from I10 dreaming
of an angel to drag you from your grave;
“O dreamers who blundered west from Houston, Boston,
Boise, only to be dashed against toney anterooms of
Paramount and Universal, and then united to
praise strange circus gods here, at the
edge of the crazy water;
“O crystal-chic agents of the New Age selling
fictions to babies,
O streets that we love,
O ink of night crack slinger, scared father of three,
who whistles to actors quivering in used Beemers;

“O Buddhist baby boomers shipped in from Burma and
Cambridge, despairing to reach psychotically texting
strippers and drunkabilly rockers,
“O air bnb profiteers,
O LAPD privateers,

“O black matriarch who squints at
prohibitively hip eateries which you
in any case cannot afford on the
corner where your great grandmother
worked and died,

“O new gentry who have no idea where you are
and could not be expected to care
what miracles have tattooed this ground,
but might still permit it to turn you into a
porpoise or a dying star—
“Who among you will erupt, ablaze
with care for our weird commons?
Who will describe
one circle around us all, proclaiming:
I am the first born soul of a new family, and
this is my city.
Show me one gambler unafraid to stake it all
on Love,
one true child of Venice—
our Jerusalem, the lost Holy Land
of Los Angeles.”

Categories: Poetry, Venice

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