From this spot on Hollywood Boulevard, one can just see the iconic Hollywood sign.

If you hear something, it was meant for you. Taking up the pitch within a range, I’m thinking you up a city whose foundation is a timbre. I have in mind a civil service with a few flowers and flumes of music

Begin with a guidepost and let it settle. Mark out its limits with a furrow. How to picture oranges, the riverbed Porciúncula, where water grows buildings instead.

Softened by characters—tender changeling, archangel, the angel you ain’t, the arc of your language—the desert has become little of what it seems. Gazing from rooftop to rooftop from buildings born in the middle of the night, others razed in the name of pleasure, we make a canon with space in the margins for those who deride it

A little light on backbone but broadly built to inhabit shrines, my long lady of the bottom line says instead, “I pick the men I want, and I don’t want you.” But you can have me on the brink of a yell, the addition of sound an epoch in the motion of pictures. If we’re to get anywhere with this, you need to take my place. I offer you the same in return. I hate to see you go. We like to know about the things that hurt us

A civil service with little music and few flowers slips away easy like kind words granted the passer. Like the promise of open space. Like this house and heap of things around me. A forgetfulness in. A city at hand. Whose shall be our eponym? The moment goes with our plot to own it. In pavilions along the palisade. In the doorway under the marquee at dawn. What’s sung of the clamor here. What’s sung. I hunt the sound for you


As if read to the City Council after it, the council, has read unto us, “The County of Los Angeles recognizes that we occupy land originally and still inhabited and cared for by the Tongva, Tataviam, Serrano, Kizh, and Chumash Peoples. We honor and pay respect to their elders and descendants past, present, and emerging as they continue their stewardship of these lands and waters.”

War Scene for Dorothy (fragments)


This house in Lomita is where the boy of my story lives who writes too many war stories.
House in Lomita


A barrage starts up one hazy morning with rat-tat-tats & single shots fired & breathless men looking out through slits in what cover they’ve taken. Tracers focus the mind. What mind wanders under shrapnel’s apocalyptic hailing and the bodies of silhouetted men coming into view between drifts of smoke?

I wrote “Mother’s Courage” as a teen to show a siege on a hospital as a despicable act of groupthink. Men find themselves in the throes of renal failure without knowing what’s happening. Maimed by booby traps & mines & machine-gun fire, men watch for the ramifications of trauma reaching like branches across lifetimes, until Ms. Haberfield says, “Please no more war scenes. If you must write about an experience that belongs to others, write about your parents’ courtship. Write what you know to be true without making anything up. When your access to their real lives runs out, write how running out makes you feel. Jot down interview questions whether you ask them. And yes, do speculate about their relationship, just let your reader know you’re speculating. May the limitations of your knowledge be the subject of your art today & ever after.”

We pack their wounds so true rescuers may lug them out on canvas-covered stretchers once set to fathers’ sawhorses and now serving as operating tables. Despite the amputees among us, can we please not judge those pushing their way forward as sirens wail & the wind of whirring propellers mashes hair to heads & scant vegetation to dead, gray earth? It’s the first day of the Tet Offensive, the week I am born, and my mother and not my father (in my swapping of their parts) is winning the Bronze Star Medal for her ability to enplane dozens of casualties under enemy fire. Making him her and her him and her him again, and him and her a memory of someone forgotten, the medal is solid bronze. It sits on the mantel in the little yellow ranch house on Doria Avenue in Lomita, California.