Lynne Bronstein's Venice Poems
Two Travel Posters - Part 2
from Roughage (1977)
We won't allow you ever to be sad
in Southern California!
And you've got everything,
house and car and patio,
pool and lover.
You can drive out your blues
looking into bars,
drive yourself carazy,
looking into the mirror, combing your hair,
We won't allow you to be mad in
You gotta have that look.
You've got a beach if you need to contemplate
who you are.
Lots of ads to find out. Acronyms of the week:
est ta un condo.
We won't allow you to be miserable in L.A.
Summer ends but not the war weather.
You can feel the thrust in the wind.
Right into your bosom, baby.
Says you're a real Ellay woman.
Sing about it and maybe we'll sign you.
But remember - no sorrow. Not out here.
Just By Accident (June 1978)
down the curb of Pacific Avenue
I challenge cars that pass
within inches of me.
No more safety;
this daring is the life.
Do I want accidents to happen?
Yes, if that's what it takes
to get everyone to look.
that's when you have to come along!
I expect cars to hit me;
I don't expect you
just because you were in my thoughts.
You crash and the whole day has to detour.
The danger-flares go up
but I wave the traffic aside
as I dash over to you.
I look into your silver mirror sunglasses
and I'm not surprised to see
my body fragmented all over your face,
my breasts and hips writhing
where your eyes should be,
and your reaction
Poem On The Railroad Ties
from Thirsty in the Ocean
That rainy night
we made love
on the old railroad ties on Electric Avenue
was the first time I didn't care
if I got caught.
I didn't care
that I was wet and disheveled,
that my clothes might be torn.
I didn't think
about what bones we might have broken
as we fell in a heap of limbs,
or what my relatives would think
to see me lying there
with my legs in the air
taking it from this big man
and neither of us married yet.
For once I wished the cops would come.
They would have thought
it was a case of rape
because no normal woman goes out on rainy nights
and spreads her legs on the railroad ties.
I was waiting to say:
it's all right. It's not rape.
This man and I are both poets
are composing a poem
to sanctify these railroad ties
before you wipe them out.
I heard the cars skidding by,
saw their headlights grinning upside down,
but no one stopped.
And then the only sounds
were not sirens
our dripping skins slapping together
and our voices crying out
new funny dirty words.
I don't know why I wish
there had been witnesses
that dark night on Electric Avenue.
I suppose I want someone to tell me
what the two of us were
as we embraced on the corner
of Washington and Palms,
with the rain washing off
outer layer grime
of our mutual drunkenness.
A very dirty couple,
two of the craziest of the looney
and stuck in a mess
we'd made to make sure
we'd get what we wanted
before our world together ended.
And what is there now
that he is gone
and the quick passion dried up
as quick rains dry on city pavements.
What is there now
that replays of those
last tactless words he spoke to me
almost send me to throw
these memories in the garbage,
obsolete and useless
like the railroad ties themselves?
I went back there by day
to see where we had been
I saw my head had been close
to the half-buried tracks.
There was a ragged carpet
old tires, assorted junk.
But on the wall of the nearest building,
next to some Venice gang graffiti,
in big black letters were written the words
I LOVE YOU.
And I smiled to think
the whole world would know.
New Year's Day: 1979
I walk the Ocean Front
lost in the blue drunk of afternoon,
the temporary festival of skaters
hauling plastic tubes holiday gimmick
to make the sound the Sirens sang:
a warning and a whine,
sweet squeal in afternoon.
Suddenly old apartment house
the Casa De Roma shakes from side to side
and growl of explosion
makes me wonder.
On Paloma Avenue
the people leave their houses
and stand in the walkthru street,
gossiping, exchanging New Year's greetings,
remembering friendship as they plan their move
to Arizona where the new coastline will be
when California sinks. Laughing with cocktails
they wait to see their houses fall.
Three quakes in an hour.
I am on the beach
when the third hits
scattering sand and shells
and the song of the plastic tubes goes on
still shriekes scattering notes.
I think of the beach being cut away
of my floating out to sea
(or even the moon, it never looks more than a step away)
on what's left of Venice,
into the universe,
the thin soprano of stars skating past.
Rush and clatter of the crowd
shouting bombs, quakes, this is the big one,
and to the north a black smoke column,
exclamation point above the palms.
Better get on home.
Might be my house on fire.
What-ifs of starting again
with just myself,
my books and writings burnt.
I'd have to live suspended forever
out to sea other side of the crust.
Thin wail siren song cuts away my notion of the valuable.
Ah Dylan did you mean it
she's got everything she needs
she's an artist she don't look back.
Bay Street survives,
tall palms still standing
and the white frame house
with the sloping black roof
wide porch and bottlebrush trees
and all my words within.
How it feels
drifting on that raft of land
thru oceans and constellations
this time I won't find out.
for the venice beachhead collective
Here in a circle of sorts
our group against time and the city
not trying for immortality
the most important task.
Slapping down hastily typeset words
a monthly race to bring out
twenty page history shot through folded paper
continuing subconscious epic of our lives.
I tell the rest of you a tale of confrontation:
people fighting against what we called frailty
asking me where I've been
until I admit I don't know.
(Have you wondered
what of this history
is more than what we've been told?
We only know what we've done
and we may be lying to ourselves.)
Such an assortment of opinions
and why do I care whose is the voice of God?
In this room, nine voices
whose is loudest? Who would know?
My strength assails me. Page for the month
crooked lines, wrong spaces
sentiments all guess work
but I'll pass.
I have created another installment of the myth.
In any case I'd have to write it.
I could not stay
less than subconscious
between layers of sleep.
Like the others I'll chance it,
my doubts congealed on the paste-up board
looking so official, so safe.
We are a few small people
doing what we must each week
while the world yawns
and swallows us.