I am exhausted by the gods. I called their names for years,
waited for the chorus to busk a tune I could believe in, one
that told me the truth and might have saved
the million mistakes: all those men with matinee lips
that turned out to be teeth, bussing me into oblivion.
Now I can’t get them out of my grand living room,
whiter than my white-gold hair, sunken
into the feathered clouds above Beachwood.
They shout and splinter the Stiffels, making them whole again
with things built for ruin in the living world:
burning foils, celestial stilettos whetted from quartz that salve
instead of wound, dressing everything in what you call light.
But they talk and they sing and throw wild parties
as if the place belongs to no one and there’s no morning
to answer to, the sun climbing the canyon on ladders
of Cowboy Cologne and Indian Paintbrush, the hum of the whole of Hollywood
clearing its strung-out head, bumping coke, shooting caffeine
from the fancy houses on Sunset.
I don’t miss anything
but the silence I quarried so deeply, held like treasure
pulled from the Andrea Doria, still shedding the southern Atlantic,
Apollo dredged from the Mediterranean
by boatmen running the Gaza Strip.
It’s not like they tell you, all gold-leaf harps and infinite grins.
We take ourselves with us, not the body but the actual self
the one each god is desperate to know now that it’s too late.
It’s not their fault, I suppose. They could never get us to listen
and we could never hear under the storm and the clamor,
our fabulous calamity, this thunderous skin.
 
 

Matthew Terhune

MATTHEW TERHUNE is the author of Bathhouse Betty (2012). His work has appeared in various journals, including American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, and Narrative.He lives in Los Angeles.

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