POETRY: EMILY STRAUSS – SEEKING L.A.

Seeking L.A.

I’m looking for what they
are looking for—

walk under the freeway
that runs next to the arena,
convention center, skyscrapers,
instantly the landscape changes:
a tent occupies a corner, older
houses with littered yards, run-
down cars, tiny Mexican mercados
sell soda, chips, beer, not one
piece of fruit

sidewalks broken, rubbish fills
every corner, empty storefronts
line one block, weary mothers
walk their scrubbed children
to school before going to the other
side to cook, clean, serve

walk further into Koreatown
equally battered, only the signs
change on more small shops
crowded with cheap goods,
two restaurants per block
men crouch smoking hard,
nail salon, plastic surgeon—

what are they looking for?
Tall old palms line quiet
residential streets, traffic
is frenzied, distant mountains
barely glimpsed amongst the clutter,
the sky blue for once, beaches
beyond reach, the desert lurks
behind the last range

homeless, poor, working class
harried, packed together
in this endless city spilling
out to hold dreamers, seekers,
the lost and found, hopeful of
something in the dry sun
staring at thin palms, waiting
for luck to shower on their raised
faces as the skyscrapers glow
in the distant haze.

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