Part 4 Contributors


Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Christopher Buckley
Neeli Cherkovski
Boris Dralyuk
Alicia Elkort
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Kate Gale
Frank X. Gaspar
Dana Gioia
Shotsie Gorman
S.A. Griffin
Donna Hilbert
Brenda Hillman
Glenna Luschei
Phoebe MacAdams
devorah major
Clive Matson
K. Silem Mohammad
Rusty Morrison
Harry Northup
Holly Prado Northup - In Memoriam
Cathie Sandstrom
Shelley Scott - In Memoriam
Daniel Shapiro
Mike Sonksen
Pam Ward
Sholeh Wolpe
Gary Young
Mariano Zaro

Part 1 Contributors

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky

Part 2 Contributors

Elena Karina Byrne
liz gonzález
Grant Hier
Lois P. Jones
Ron Koertge
Glenna Luschei
Rooja Mohassessy
Susan Rogers
Patty Seyburn
Maw Shein Win
Kim Shuck
Lynne Thompson
Carine Topal
Cecilia Woloch

Part 3 Contributors

Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Lucille Lang Day
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Marsha De La O
Charles Jensen
Eloise Klein Healy
Glenna Luschei
Clint Margrave
Henry Morro
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Phil Taggart
David L. Ulin
Jonathan Yungkans
Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis

Part 5 Contributors

Millicent Borges Accardi
Kim Addonizio
Marjorie R. Becker
Jacqueline Berger
John Brandi
James Cagney
Carol Moldaw
Kosrof Chantikian
Brendan Constantine
James Cushing
Kim Dower
David Garyan
Valentina Gnup
Troy Jollimore
Judy Juanita
Paul Lieber
Rick Lupert
Glenna Luschei
Sarah Maclay
Jim Natal
Judy Pacht
Connie Post
Jeremy Radin
Luis J. Rodriguez
Gary Soto
Cole Swensen
Arthur Sze
Charles Upton
Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam)

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Click to enlarge picture Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia
Californian Poets Part 4: Three Poems
Dana Gioia



Psalms and Lament for Los Angeles


On the streets of Hawthorne I sat down and wept.
Yes, wept as I remembered it.

I came to the asphalt country of my childhood,
to revisit the precincts of memory.

I walked the old boulevard, where the shops
had been condemned and demolished.

I passed the bankrupt mall, defaced and boarded.
And all was vacancy and squalor.

Where was the drugstore where my parents met?
And the neighborhood park with its Indian palms?

Where was the Plaza Theater with its neon beacon
taller than a church spire?

I wandered the silent ruins of my city.
What was there to sing in a strange and empty land?


If I forget you, Los Angeles, let my eyes burn
In the smoggy crimson of your sunsets.

If I prefer not the Queen of the Angels to other cities,
Then close my ears to the beat of your tides.

Let me stand on the piers of Malibu, blind
to the dances of the surfers and the dolphins.

But, O Los Angeles, you dash your children against the stones.
You devour your natives and your immigrants.

You destroy your father’s house. You sell your daughters to strangers.
You sprawl in the carnage and count the spoils.

You stretch naked in the sunlight, beautiful and obscene--
So enormous, hungry, and impossible to pardon.

Psalm of the Heights


You don’t fall in love with Los Angeles
Until you’ve seen it from a distance after dark.

Up in the heights of the Hollywood Hills
You can mute the sounds and find perspective.

The pulsing anger of the traffic dissipates,
And our swank unmanageable metropolis

Dissolves with all its signage and its sewage--
Until only the radiance remains.

That’s when the City of Angels appears,
Silent and weightless as a dancer’s dream.

The boulevards unfold in brilliant lines.
The freeways flow like shining rivers.

The moving lights stretch into vast
And secret shapes, invisible at street level.

At the horizon, the city rises into sky,
Our demi-galaxy brighter than the zodiac.


Surely our destinies are written in this zodiac,
Whose courses and conjunctions govern us.

Look down and name our starry constellations--
Wilshire, Olympic, Santa Monica.

In speeding Comets or sleek Thunderbirds,
We traveled the twelve Houses of the Heavens

Ascending Crenshaw, Sunset, or Imperial,
Locked in our private worlds of lust or laughter.

Who will cast the charts of our radiant sorrow,
Or trace the secret transits of our joy?

The traffic shimmers in its fixed trajectories,
Dense and indifferent as nebulae.

Though you resist the gaudy spectacle,
You can’t escape the city’s sortilege.


Move away, if you wish, to the white Sierras,
Or huddle in the smoky canyons of Manhattan.

You’ll miss the juvenescent rapture of LA
Where ecstasy cohabits with despair,

Lascivious and fitful as a pair of lovers.
Let someone else play grown-up.

Here the soul sings like a car radio, and no one
Asks your age because we’re all immortal.

Inhale the spices of the midnight air
Drifting from Thai Town and Little Armenia.

Here on the hilltop, the city whispers to you,
“Come down and play in the traffic.

Merge into the moving lights, our myriad,
The luminous multitudes that surround you.

Join their fiery orbit. Shine with us tonight.
Where else can you become a star?”

Psalm to Our Lady Queen of the Angels

Let us sing to our city a new song,
A song that remembers its name and its founders—
Los Pobladores, the forgotten forty-four,
Who built their pueblo beside a small river.

They named the river for the Queen of the Angels,
Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles.
Poor, they were forced to the margins of empire,
Dark, dispossessed, not one couple pure.

Let us praise the marriages and matings that created us.
Desire, swifter than democracy merging the races—
Spanish, Aztec, African, and Anglo—
Forbidden matches made holy by children.

I praise myself, a mutt of mestizo and mezzogiorno,
The seed of exiles and violent men,
Disfigured by the burdens they shouldered to survive.
Broken or bent, their boast was their suffering.

I praise my ancestors, the unkillable poor,
The few who escaped disease or despair—
The restless, the hungry, the stubborn, the scarred.
Let us praise the dignity of their destitution.

Let us praise their mother, Nuestra Senora,
The lost guardian, who watches them still
From murals and medals, statues, tattoos.
She has not abandoned her divided pueblo.

She has been homeless with a hungry child,
A refugee fleeing a brutal warlord.
A mother, she held her murdered son.
Her crown is jeweled with seven sorrows.

Pray for the city that lost its name.
Pray for the people too humble for progress.
Pray for the flesh that pays for profit.
Pray for the angels kept from their queen.

Pray in the hour of our death each day
In the southern sun of our desecrated city.
Pray for us, mother of the mixed and misbegotten,
Beside our dry river and tents of the outcast poor.