Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Poem

To give you an idea. See what you think.

Secrets from the Garden of Allah

Where they discovered Lana Turner
in her sweater now are escalators
to a gym and a theater showing art films
before they win Oscars. There’s no sign
to remind the army of the sunglassed
that this was where ingenues waited
in long skirts for their close-ups, where careers
and deals were made over malteds.

Across the street, McDonald’s arches
back against a squat row of shops
in pink plaster. This plaza and its lot
was once the Garden of Allah –
not God, but an actress close enough
to heaven: close to Hollywood.
Nazimova! She kept them coming
back, kept their secrets: bungalows
with hidden doors; cabana boys
and handmaids for every taste;
endless jazz; moonlit parties with the pool
swimming in gin.

But Allah’s nights
slipped off the reel. Pictures started talking.
Bars bloomed on Sunset. The Garden closed
to guests. The pool sat dry. The actress
took her bows without an audience.

Today, we’ve forgotten her; our sky aligns
with different constellations. The places
of the past are places to park: easy
in, and right back out. Yet so much remains
in our mythology. Desire still
tempts with glimpses of her dewy thighs.
Rumor’s a fickle bitch, ruffling feathers,
clearing the field; Legend, her flinty aunt,
burnishes all she leaves behind. But not
secrets from the Garden of Allah:
those things whispered, concealed in closets,
with fake names at the front desk, with masks.
These belong to Truth, frail mistress, her hour
brief as blossoms of jacaranda,
soon fallen and scattered in the May breeze.