Literature » Poetry

“Watching La La Land” — a poem by Erren Kelly

 

View from Mulholland Drive, 2016

 

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Watching La La Land

 

Unlike New York City
L.A. is a woman who will love you back
But she gives her love freely and often

On a not so beautiful morning,
I went to the movies and thought
about you as the credits rolled.
Tried to wash you out of my hair,
but love lingers like a tattoo or
a fragrance I can’t quite seem
to shake.

Like a jazz riff that slowly aches
within my heart, like a kiss you gave 
me I never got.
Like the love we made, we never shared.
Yet I dared to love you
cos like a jazz song,
you deserved to be mine.

You’re walking across the screen like Greta
Garbo or Bette Davis, but its only Emma Stone;
the perfect marriage of good girl and tempest.
Thin as a reed, a sax man would blow, though
she shows signs of a black woman ass
I have imagined blackness lurking within
your soul, though your birthright
says money and privilege
and your skin is pale as sour cream
Emma is so pale she’s translucent like you

You are pale with blue eyes
A blondie tickling the ivories
but, no, that’s Ryan Gosling, playing the
black and white keys, like we played
each other, he looks like Brando or Cary Grant
and plays  the Steinway like Ellington

We keep finding a way to delay the inevitable
gratification, but jazz won’t wait, 
though it is slowly dying
I’m singing in the rain, as rain comes down
like your fingers on the piano
at the thought of loving you

Each encounter is a duel, we’re armed only
with notes and kisses,
we have deeds and wishes,
as the weapons to give us bliss

Emma stands there, like you,
like Dorothy, skin holding daylight.
Black woman ass protruding proudly,
like a Bill Evans solo;
I want to covet you and your ruby slippers.
and take you  home.

you play jazz, cos its your music.
It is not your birth right, but you claim
it like Ryan, it is a brother from another mother
You are a lover from a  different  soul,
and like the stars, you will shine tonight
cos jazz owns  the moment.

Like Ryan, you dive into the rhythm,
like a Jet defending his turf.

When your a Jet,  you’re a jet all the way
this story started  in California,
though it travels back to the West Side,
like jazz traveled from New Orleans,
and landed in St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit,
and other places you left melodies
behind like kisses; black notes,
call out for you, like they’re calling for Mama.

Summer loving is always fast, furious and fleeting.
I enjoyed you in Griffith Park as we sat under the stars;
I put lotion on your back at Sunset Beach as Miles
burned freedom onto your porcelain skin.

And then the rain fell…
The rain in Spain, falls mainly
on the plain; but its not Spain,
its a park on Mulholland Drive,
as we overlook Los Angeles;
like Emma, you are radiant and
sexy; like Ryan, I tell you about my dreams:
my poetry and poetry can be jazz;
poetry is just jazz made  with words.
Your blue eyes are in the key of bliss;
we kiss as Billie calls for her man,
we get up and dance:
your body is a kaleidoscope;
and I step a two-toned shuffle
Mingus would dig
like Mary Poppins,I lift you in the air.
We don’t need wings to fly to heaven,
just a melody, Sarah Vaughan offers as a remedy

Though jazz is dying…

jazz is dying and we must save it,
because tomorrow belongs to us;
life is a cabaret,  so lets dance,
let our dreams, no matter how insane or
improbable, be the blueprint that
rescues jazz from imminent death.
You watch me reading poems
That I never read for you;
you play songs, I never heard;
Americans in Paris, we walk hand in hand
side by side like piano keys,
like lovers, kissing by The Seine.

And even Mr. Steinway would approve.

But I had it coming, I didn’t meet
my Waterloo in Chicago or Paris;
but in L.A., its hard to love someone,
when poetry is a jealous mistress;
It’s hard to be faithful when
poetry is a jealous bitch.
And though you could rock my world,
She’s  got  papers on me
she owns my soul
                   and all that jazz…

But I dream of us sitting in Griffith Park
like Tony and Maria sitting on a fire escape
on the west side, somehow, some way , somewhere,
we have to fight to keep things alive.
Jazz cannot live,  if it doesn’t change.
Love cannot survive, if it doesn’t grow
If I am to grow,  I have to let you be you,
and you have to let me be me, even if we both lose.

Though  I hold you at night, and touch you as a silhouette;
Taste you and feel the rainbow in my arms;
To dream the impossible dream!
To seize the unreachable star, that is my quest!

You are my windmill, my Mecca, my Babylon
my gold, my Holy Grail, my fate
I don’t know how to love her
but maybe god will show me how

I’m a writer, I can handle rejection.
I’m a man, I can handle rejection
from women. 
But seeing you with a woman,
cuts me to the bone,
like Sweeney Todd’s razor.
Seeing you with someone else,
is like a stake through the heart.
I had it coming,the golden rule always
comes true, and thoughts of you haunt
me like a bittersweet melody Horace Silver
or Red Garland could sing on the keyboard.

At least I know jazz won’t die…

Maybe it is not to late:
The sun will come out tomorrow,
like a grace note you left behind.
Maybe fate will rewind the film,
and we can write the right ending to this.

And I can watch you sitting in a hole in the wall,
The room filled with the scent of sin,
As you pull jazz from its grave.
Hope glittering like ruby slippers;
our love is a cabaret and tomorrow
belongs to us.

There is a place for us…

 

 

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Erren Geraud Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet. His poems have appeared in dozens of print and online publications in the United States, Canada and all over the world. He is the author of the book, Disturbing The Peace, from Night Ballet Press. Kelly received his B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He lives in Los Angeles.

 

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