March 2019

Back to Issue 5

Vox Pops, LA ’82

By Ian Gibbins

Blue in Laurel Canyon, we tread lightly around

Diamond-back Rattlers, before California Poppies

ignite wildfire, slip landslide, glitter starlet sashay

along Sunset Boulevard, a Little League fortune

removed from roly-poly fish heads, grid-lock dementia, 

two hundred back-stage blocks past Pico and Sepulveda,

with laugh tracks fading out, sweaty credits on a roll,

as we need to feel the Kool, the mentholated rush

of kick, snare, hi-hat, ablaze under nicotine moonstain,

while we wait for Miles and Ornette and Zawinul 

on the night train to dig the dirt with Boogie Chillun’,

your Hoochie Coochie Man, the Little Red Rooster, 

raggin’ the Dozens, sour-mash whiskey and fries,

at five thousand watts an hour before Hollywood

locks down into another Culver City Magic Mix

and once again it’s The Doctor, in your home,

prescribing Kindness, Joy, Love and Happiness, 

or else Billy Jean is on the loose with Atomic Dog, 

burning tar, stripping gears, punching automatic rounds 

through plate glass, low-riders, post-nuclear dragon hearts,

She says, I am the one… but this time we are not,

because this might be the first Alaskan Gray Whale

or the last from Baja, because Santa Ana blows 

photochemical fog across the Pacific Coast Highway,

and surf’s up huge, pounds million-dollar Malibu dreams, 

shreds Topanga reef, double-barrels Zuma outside banks,

for sure, for sure, because it’s so fucking hot, man,

it was so fun, like we were so fucking gassed, like

our muscles ripped and we toked, chilled, high-fived

Johnson, the pivot, fake, pass, Kareem, pure net,

They’re everywhere, he says, I’m impressed…

and between frijoles refritos and huevos rancheros,

they still go crazy about the way we speak,

but shoes no longer matter when tequila turns to gold,

when across the terminator, our day has counted in.