Welcome to LA
Here’s some on-street casting.
Three tough guys, huddled by the curb, like a lasting
Vision from some film clip:
A kid in shades, Marlboro at his lip,
Who’s taking it all in.
The older dudes in Polo shirts, deep in conversation,
Intense as any Method actor.
From birth to death they’ll stay in character,
In case a call to “Action!”
Booms out through the air—to catch one
Fraction of their life in celluloid
And so sidestep the void.
It’s Miami or LA, somewhere too sunny.
The light is thin and bright, as crisp as money.
And the Oscar goes to… Best ’80s Costume?
Best Weathered Face? Best Cigarette? To whom
Does this scenario belong?
Someone who’s out of sight, beyond the throng
That’s streaming down the street?
Anything could happen next. “A bite to eat?”
One of the Polo dudes could say. Or: “You’re dead.”
Maybe both at once: first lunch, and then a bullet to the head.
Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999).