Posts By James Conor Patterson

Becoming an American

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The Depression

“I would rather play roles that carry conviction.
Maybe it’s because they’re the easiest and yet
the hardest things for me to do.”

— Peg Entwistle, Oakland Tribune, 05/05/1929


Sprawled across a teak and brass rail bar,

suppose it’s September 1932
and you haven’t worked since Broadway.
Wouldn’t you sit and just get drunk?
Tell your folks you’re meeting friends
in a drugstore on Beachwood Drive
then beeline up the trail to Mount Lee?
Imagine the black fry of manure
and gardenias. All them crickets.
L.A.’s bristling dark and yellow
like a bumblebee’s fur.
Downhill through hosiery and scrub
to HOLLYWOODLAND and up the first
few rungs of a workman’s ladder,
you see your face in a small ravine.
Do you fall backwards or forwards
off the ‘H’; prefer it for its sigh—
in some quarters, not pronounced at all—
or simply jump? One day vies
against the next and for every kernel
of untruth, you’re just like a rosary bead.
Your own ghost calls it through
and two policemen make the find. Face down.
Well-dressed. Shoes and jacket in a parcel.

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