We Have Got to Get Out of L.A.

By Suzanne Lummis

Nights, the expanse of lit streets and lights
of mini-marts sends out an avid, sex-tinged and
discontented glow for planes to drift through.

Days, the men no one would marry stand
too close behind us, in lines dangling
through Food-4-Less, Rite Aid Drugs.

Friends, we have got to get out of L.A.
Downstairs a couple yelp their seedy
bare-boned love, and then fight.

Upstairs a woman rehearses, once again,
the awful song no one will buy.
Its unlucky-with-men news wobbles

out over The Donut Inn’s clientele—
guys dressed down and broke till Friday,
unlucky with women.

We have got to get out of L.A.
It’s built on sand with stolen water.
A burning thirst got under our skin.

And these hints of oasis, the bowings
of tall wand-like palms over
the avenues, stir up far-fetched desire.

It’s the palms and that cell talk
riding the waves. We believe
stuff. There’s, like, big plans in the air.

But the greedy nibbled our greatness
and it got small. Our agents
dumped us and moved on. Lovers

rode home on a Greyhound bus.
The dream we can’t wake up from
complained it’s not getting younger—

and left without paying the rent.
It woke up from us.


Suzanne Lummis has been variously associated with the 1980s Stand-up Poetry movement, a sensibility that combined the discipline of literary poetry with the comic irreverence of performance art; with the “Fresno poets,” who studied with Philip Levine; and with “the poem noir.” She hosts the YouTube series, “They Write by Night,” produced by poetry.la, which explores poetry influenced by film noir and crime fiction. Poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry, and The New Yorker. For better or worse–or, better and worse–Lummis never did quite break loose from L.A.

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