Ode to Imitation, or Modern Revival

J. Alexander Kinnear

I have been half in love with easeful Death

—John Keats “Ode to a Nightingale”


A raven dwells in this poet’s marred heart

                Feeding on my living carrion.

Delight, O Corvus corax! streetwise, black art

                Liberator of my thorax teach me,

Deceive me—replace art imitating

                Art imitating life below that damn

Hollywood sign, beside the dying Los

                Angeles River with apparitions:

Muses amusing white headlights, after

                Hour traffic. Blue-eyed prostitute: Mother?


Lover?—seek shelter or fly. Weep, rejoice

                Black claws perched on bird shit covered stoplights:

Watchman, surrogate father. This bastard

                City aches. Hearts here beat for memories thin,

Ragged as the green government issued

                Blanket wrapped around the unshaven vagrant,

Veteran of foreign wars and winters

                Small enough to fit in back pockets. Nights

Louder than days—sleep is good (if you can

                Get it). Swig the American whiskey.


Think of her. O jaundiced moon come drink your

                Woes away! Stars die brighter here under

California skies. Raven haired women

                Steal my heart and replace it with feathers:

Quills—when dipped in blood, lines of ecstasy,

                Pain, from love and loss, tattoo the pages

Pinned to the walls inside my sunken

                Chest. Sunset, boulevard of dreams, lead me

Home to her—Los Angeles calls all toward

                Her, sons and daughters, sinners, dreamers, we


Lovers like sea gulls hovering dying waves.


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