‘To Live and Die in L.A’ by Laura Paul


To Live and Die in L.A.

I wanted to live and die with L.A.
I think of it as my home
I want to go home
Is it stupid to love something that’s going to die?
My, I felt my bones just this morning
Momento mori

Hollywood’s always been real estate
You can see it on the sign—
agents everywhere

Abandoned hill houses
worth too much these days
Writing on the walls
fresh coat of paint—
and you’re gone

Who needs art
when you’ve got a view like that?
But no one can attack
foreign investors
because they’re too far away!

People born in L.A. act
as if it is so artificial
but when you’ve been raised in a trap
Los Angeles is like a wonderland
which it is
which is why
they tend to dismiss it in the first place
and instead reach for constructions
of sober existence
not realizing
its artifice too

They move out, looking for reality
believing such a place
must have
much less fine weather

Love is not having to go
somewhere else
I like living in a place
where I can call David Lynch my neighbor
I hate that I can see the Beverly Center
the office where I used to work
I love that I can see the ocean though
the chaparral, the sky
the emphasis on lightness

L.A. is its own kind of realization
one where you’re aware
that you’re living in a sensation
unlike New Yorkers, or even rural Americans
who believe that having class, or no class
is something beautiful
and natural

Here, we understand
the superficiality of it all
And don’t care which college
you came from
(which is sometimes good
sometimes bad)

I came to L.A. because I thought it would radicalize me
little did I know it did
It taught me the radical enjoyment of pleasure—
that I could take myself seriously
without forgoing delight
You think that where I came from
taught me that?

I enjoy my life
Stumbling around the neighborhood
to reach the lookout spot
acting like some sort of
sedate Hunter S. Thompson
Drunk off of sleep
shirt half unbuttoned
instead I smoke a ball point pen

I like Los Angeles because it is plural
You don’t have to be one thing—
you can be something and nothing at the same time

A city of many cities
I’ve never met one person
to define all of this

L. A.

So don’t get mad
at the sun for shining
get angry at the investors
who told you it had a price

Laura Paul is a writer living in Los Angeles. Previously, her work has been published by the Brooklyn Rail, Entropy Magazine, Eohippus Labs, Shirley Magazine, and featured at the West Hollywood Book Fair and Los Angeles Zine Fair. She is the author of Entropy’s monthly Stars to Stories column and since June 2018 she’s been filming a weekly video series of her poetry at poemvideo.com. Raised in Sacramento, she’s earned her B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master’s from UCLA. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @laura_n_paul

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