“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
What drains into the great big sink of LA is the nomad. The sprawling, low-rise mass of the 88 cities which comprise the city of angels – pierced only by the sporadic inner-city skyscrapers – is a veritable feast of artists and burger-flippers, bel-air beauties and underpass dwellers. As you hike up and down the craggy mountains which surround it or lie prostrate on its thick, endless beaches be careful: the sunshine is served with a side of bitter Pacific breeze. You can enter only by a ride on a six-lane highway whose sides are lined with fast food joints and supermarkets serving kombucha health drinks at ten dollars a pop and the cars either boast the jet black chassis of jeeps, white vintage mercedes or banged up old Kias and open top trucks. The reverie of the smell; the wild cucumber, and the Californian laurel is sweet and heady, but there are signs of drought by the wayside and if you stretch your hand out far enough you can touch the desert where Southern Californian soil becomes burnt and uncompromising. The great big sink of LA glistens, but it is a shallow one.
As the years trickle by slowly at first, then at all once – I look around and find that we seem to have indicated off, down our different paths without any real signpost. Some paths well trodden, others less so we diverge, no longer conformed by our surroundings, into the next stage. And we lose something each time we turn, our familiar closeness. A combined consciousness.
Though I’m happy for my friends who have decided to take the plunge, I can’t help feeling that somehow I’ve been left behind. That I live in denial, wishing for the past whilst their future looms orb like over the thick peaks of adolescence to which my nostalgia clings.
While they collate something borrowed, something blue; I am the old and they are the new. They look forward to tomorrow because it brings something better, a heady reminder that I live in the black shadow of happiness. Unable to ever see the point of it all, wishing we were 15 all over again.
7.40 – alarm.
7.50 – snooze.
8.00 – pick up towel.
8.01 – shower.
8.08 – showered.
8.10 – turn radio on.
8.15 – half-dressed.
8.20 – hair dryer.
8.25 – make-up.
8.30 – finish dressing.
8.32 – out the door.
8.35 – wait for the overground.
8.40 – wait for the central line.
8.55 – get off the central line.
9.05 – at my desk.
The wafer thin base of an oven-hardened pizza is my balm to a hard week. Sour dough preferable, ndjua – you fiery temptress (no one can pronounce it..). Delicious. Is £15 too much to pay? Does it matter? Mmmmmm. Paired with a pint of wine, hello Friday!
There’s a plug missing in my kitchen
so the water just drains,
washing is a problem
the suds close rank and pool
and float down, cloud like,
whilst raindrops come through the ceiling,
we collect them in a frisbee.
Our walls are half painted,
some blue some cream,
where my Mother sleeps on her side
half empty. She adds it to the list.
Because the wooden panels
that frame the bath are rotten
a leak has sprung and we cultivate
great big mushrooms.
Now the fence has fallen
at the weight of our crab apple tree and
its limbs splay over the grass,
not tended, but wild safari straw.
We are in decay! We moan.
We call another plummer,
polish the floor.
We fell what was.
Snatched from mouths of wicked assailants
the call comes out with a snarl and a click,
clamped jaw, lock-jaw frozen in cool combinations of
twit-woos and orites – clip clop pace fast to mask
a face of burning blood, watery shame.
Fidgeting hands tweak, prod, the whispers cajole
buried dead, beneath barbed cages of ivy and flesh
they echo violent taunts of wet flagellation at the
illusion of exposure supposedly made by sultry
awkward eyes, by the meeting of pink-humble thighs.