City of Angels

So what remains?
When all the major losses, as well as any gains
Are tallied at the end,
When you’re right where you pretend
You really want to be—what then?
What is there to defend?
You find yourself, as many people do,
Adrift between one’s dreams and what is true,
Just like the city of LA.
As if there were no other way.
But right now on the corner of the Boulevard,
Let’s take an inventory: a shard
Of broken glass, some paper plates, a hot dog bun—detritus
Along the curb that any one of us
Could stumble through. And nearby there’s a shopping cart
Flipped on its back, a wounded animal, not from a supermarket
But from a life of desolation.
Or is it dereliction? When there’s an abdication
Of one’s will, when getting very sick
Or getting fired’s the final kick
That kicks you in the gut, and you no longer hold a place
Within the social strata, you face
A shopping cart’s reality that’s crammed
With everything you own, as if to say: I am.
And when that cart goes belly up,
So do you, beyond the unimaginable, full stop.
A male hustler on the street—-
Dyed blond curls, shades, short shorts—won’t meet
The tourists’ gaze, who warily step around the mess.
Who among us will bear witness?


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. Journals in which his poems have appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. 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).

Edward S. Gault is a poet and fine art photographer. He lives at Mosaic Commons, a co-housing community in Berlin, Ma. He has a wife Karen, and daughter.