Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hanging out at the Los Angeles Public Library

When I come to Los Angeles (where I am now) I often hang out at the Los Angeles Public Library while my best friend Lisa is at work. I do not come to LA for the library, I come for Lisa, but she has limited time off and works just a few blocks away from the library. It's the biggest library I have ever been in and I love to read so it's a fine way for me to spend my day. The only negative thing about the library is that it's the #1 favorite spot for LA's homeless. They come in and fall asleep in the comfy chairs, the police wake them up and they move to another spot to sleep. Sometimes they read or, as I saw frequently, intensely study papers they have brought with them. Don't get me wrong, the library should be free and open to everybody and I don't begrudge the homeless from using the library as a place to get out of the sun or to chill out and read. But it's hard to get engrossed in a book when I have to frequently move because the guy sleeping next to me smells like pee and sweat and all manner of "earthy" scents and has started to snore.

In any case, I spent two days at the library and my first day involved both monkeys and poetry.

On my reading list for quite some time has been The Adventures of Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey. It is now happily crossed off my list. It's weirder than I thought it would be, but not as good as I had hoped. Basically a toy monkey and toy crow drink heavily and get shot at by toy cannons. And there's enough tragic-comic death to be had by all.

Looking through the library's collection of current lit mags I found that Linda Gregerson just had a knockout poem published in the Winter 2009 issue of The Kenyon Review titled "Dido Refuses to Speak."

Also, Francine J. Harris is in the newest issue of Ploughshares. Her poem, "because when all is told, i love objects. even the threatening ones," is below. And is awesome.
"because when all is told, i love objects.
even the threatening ones."

-agnes nemes nagy

every few minutes, through a metal flue
the throat bursts into flames from the furnace
above my bed. it's the color
of fire. i can see the chokeholds catch.
fire ants carry off the heat
down the metal ducts, and the vents
push out the heat, which falls
down the walls behind me
in drapes.

i try to imagine
my mother's hair on fire.
that under her flame colored skin
were bones. that a skeleton smiles
on fire. that if a bone skeleton
tried to hold you, you would
run. that a bone
stack of fire would not run
but would come to you gently, outstretched
arms ablaze, flames still lapping at eyeballs
that were no longer there. that through
the rib of the bones you could
see her throat catch fire
every time she tried to explain
why she called the time operator at night
to listen to her voice. in her sleep
she would call out to her mother.
her throat on fire. the bones
churning the pillows.
people said she was a sweet woman.
was stuck to her
the way smiles are stuck
to skeletons.

someone had to tell me
you are supposed to put the pilot light out in spring
and turn off the gas.

(Francine J. Harris, from the Winter 2008-09 issue of Ploughshares)

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