Mike Sonksen
Further resources on Mike Sonksen
5 poems
I Am Alive in Los Angeles!
          I am alive in Los Angeles! /           I am alive in Los Angeles! / Here in the wild, wild west.. / The warm wind hits my face, / I walk across stained concrete, / I cry tears of joy on Flower Street.. / I watch families dancing / on their porches on Christmas Eve. / I smile widely. / I move thru the city, / my heart beating swiftly / as sirens speed by me. / I revel in the sadness—my soul is deep / I take full responsibility. / Give me everything! / It hurts—it's so beautiful! / The universal / Soulful multicultural / Emerging worldwide / tribe people /           I am alive in Los Angeles! /           I am alive in Los Angeles! / Where the angles change like isosceles. / Citywide topographies / undulate across massive landscape / moving from chain-link to palatial gates into / separate economic states with rising birth rates / below hilltops in the streetscapes. / One can barely even equivocate / the fluctuations in rent so evident / all across from block to block to block. / Extravagance and adversity interlock: / palatial spots, crosswalks, burrito shops, / housekeepers are hanging out at bus stops, / the Country Club's all walled off. / The city's blowing up like a molotov / even when I'm in the shower / I hear the horns honk. /           I am alive in Los Angeles! / Whether I’m listening to Miles Davis / or electronic music / I move thru traffic / loving the inner-city dynamics / the midcity magic moves / from happiness to tragic, / adversity to extravagance / like seeing Korean grandparents moving slowly / Catholic school children crossing fearlessly / I saw a stray dog that looked like Spuds Mackenzie / by the Belmont Tunnel on 2nd Street / live and direct in the Rampart District. /           I am alive in Los Angeles! / All the people stopped stifled up in gridlock. / Everywhere roadblocks cause charged reactions. / Waves of chaos are collapsing / keeping people bottled up. / Tempers are rising up, / desperate drivers look for shortcuts. / There's no way around it. / Congested walls keep surrounding, / surrounding coming down around us. / Claustrophobic intensity / stuck in the web of density, / people have a propensity to have anxiety. / It's daily with so many people in one place. / Interacting face to face to face / with different destinations. / Everybody keeps racing / in this fast-paced nation. /           I AM ALIVE IN Los Angeles! / The neon crowns glow / above the City of Angels, / haze hovers after another / nuclear sunset, I love it all. /           I AM ALIVE IN Los Angeles!
Night & The City: LA Noir
1. / LA Noir is the other side of Sunshine; / Crime Novels, a Century of scandals: / OJ Simpson to Fatty Arbuckle, / Charlie Chaplin to Phil Spector / Black Dahlia to the Hillside Strangler, / the Night Stalker & Charles Manson. / Celebrity mansions in Coldwater Canyon. / Mickey Cohen’s Haberdashery, / The Doors Live at the Whisky! / Take a left on Doheny, / Unsolved mysteries like Who shot Biggie? / 2. / Robert Downey Jr. & Charlie Sheen / Celebrate hedonism’s program / Like Lindsay Lohan. / Ike Turner was an old man / Still doing cocaine. / Some hate the player, / Some hate the game. / Southern California seldom rains. / The Landscape of Broken Dreams, / Everything is not what it seems. / 3. / Where have you gone Rita Hayworth? / America’s first Cover Girl / Divorced from Orson Welles. / “Who knows what evil / Lurks in the hearts of men? The shadow knows.” / Literary alcoholics Like F. Scotch Fitzgerald / Came to Hollywood for the paycheck. / Faulkner, Hemingway & Nathaniel West / drank at Musso & Franks. / Basking in B Movies & Ida Lupino / The Outsider under red-lit rain. / Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, / James M. Cain began his reign / With The Postman Always Rings Twice. / Lucky Luciano & the Sunset Trocadero / Look at Dolores Del Rio on LA Brea, / Celluloid myth & screen legends / Gloria Swanson & Sunset Blvd / Somebody tell Cecil B. Demille / I’m ready for My Close Up. / William S. Hart to Humphrey Bogart, / Belushi OD’d at the Chateau MArmont. / 4. / The Hollywood Ten became defendants / McCarthy frightened the country. / Fear ruled the Cold War, / Radicals became scapegoats. / Who Framed Roger Rabbit? / The City of Industry & Chinatown, / Conspiracy Theories abound, / And Most of them are true. / 5. / Marilyn Monroe’s ghost haunts / The Hollywood Roosevelt, / where the first Oscars were held. / Now they’re in a shopping mall. / Everybody’s got something to sell, / Drop the velvet curtains / & roll out the red carpet. / The Hollywood myth / Started with Strawberry Fields. / The dirt road called Prospect Avenue / Grew into Hollywood Blvd. / Technicolor marquees & bright lights, / Tabloids publish catfights, / Fans line up on Premiere Nights, / Kodak got the naming rights, / Hollywood’s a lot prettier at night. / 6. / Bards born under Bogart / Like Suzanne Lummis, LAureL Ann Bogen & Michael C. Ford / Created the poem noir... / Welcome to Beverly Hills. / EL Rancho Rodeo de Las Aguas, / The Gathering of the Waters. / LA Cienega began swamplands, / Cactus gardens & landscape architects / Rows of Palm trees & Eucalyptus, / Purple owers on Jacarandas, / Towering gates on Westside mansions. / Bette Davis said, “Take Fountain.” / 7. / Restrictive Housing Covenants imposed social distance, / The struggle for Existence / Causes people to go for broke. / Hollywood is the City of Hope, / Songs of Innocence become Experience, / Dime detectives, dangerous dames, / Dead bodies & late night games. / LA’s criminal underworld dates back to the legend of Zorro. / Offshore Gambling ships owned by Bugsy Siegel. / A blanket of lights, the hills are on fire, / The city of night, / Seduced by desire. / Screams heard from afar, / An empty drink in a quiet bar, / A lonely ride in a busted car / Night in the city is L.A. Noir.
Ode to the Los Angeles River
I sing of a River dammed, / dumped, pumped & Diverted; / I sing of a River / they almost Murdered.. / I sing of a River / the people forgot, / I sing of a River / that flows from the rocks… / I sing of a River rushing from Mountain slopes, / Snowmelt below Mt. Wilson, / the mouth of the Arroyo. / I sing of a River where the shifting bottom / of soft sedimentary sandstones / & clay mixes with gravel / washed from seasonal runoff. / I sing of a River less celebrated / than world waters, / still powerful enough / to wash away a village. / I sing of a River that switched beds, / Underground moisture in the watershed. / I sing of a River where much of the water / never reached the sea — forming / Marshes, lagoons & mud flats. / I sing of a River with / a huge underground reservoir / beneath the San Fernando Valley, / I sing of the River that built this city.. / I sing of a River that provided life / for the Tongva Tribe. Later to be called / GAbrielinos, they lived amidst the willows, / Edible berries & sycamore trees. / I sing of a River where steelhead / were hunted by grizzlies. / I sing of a River with an archipelago / of birds, insects & tiny green particles, / Foam bubbles, towering power lines, / Cottonwood trees, tadpoles & morning frogs. / I sing of a River where pelicans songs / echo off canyon walls. / I sing of a River unknown to many, / Perhaps first seen in GREASE / or The TERMINATOR, / I sing of a River that’s always been here. / I sing of a River with tributaries, / Like the Rio Hondo. / I sing of a River with a confluence / in the Arroyo Seco. / I sing of a river weaving through crossroads / of freight rails & intersecting Freeways. / I sing of a river below / Metrolink & Gold Line trains. / I sing of a River with a bevy of bridges. / Merrill Butler built iconic bridges / in the City Beautiful tradition. / I sing of a River where 44 pobladores / Established the pueblo of Los Angeles / in 1781 at the Confluence / in the name of Spain / & King Carlos the Third. / I sing of a river that was here / Long before sig alerts. / I sing of a river before concrete, / squatter camps & floating cans of beer. / I sing of a River paved in concrete / by The Army Corp of Engineers. / I sing of a River resurrected / one pocket park at a time. / Blades of grass breaking concrete, / Riparian Wetlands in the Compton Creek, / Oleanders in Atwater, / Re-instate the native garden! / Lewis MacAdams founded / The Friends of the Los Angeles River / With the Power of the Word. / Like John Kinsella says, / “Poems can stop bulldozers.” / I sing of a River where / Wetlands & Washs once dominated / Witness the Return of the Watershed!
The 562
The 562 is a nexus: / A suburban, urban cross-section.. / A small town big city, / affluent, yet gritty, / The 562 is somewhere between / The 605 & 710, Hollywood & Irvine, / Santa Monica & Anaheim.. / The 562 is a good time ‘cuz / its people are down to Earth.. / Blessed by birth to be born / Where the vibes are warm, / Catch that cool ocean breeze / Blowing in from the beach. / The clouds come from the south / As the coast winds / around the peninsula / of Palos Verdes.. / The temperature is perfect.. / This land was once marshlands / & Willow thickets, / Intercepted by the L.A River, / Now surfers & grandparents kick it.. / The 562 is all-American multicultural, / Folks from Iowa to Cambodia, / El Salvador to Ethiopia, / Aviation Okies & / The aerospace industry.. / Denizens OF Long Beach / Groove to Snoop Dogg & Sublime, / Garage rock & Freestyle rhyme.. / On the streets of Long Beach / you can find / oil in Signal Hill, / Broadway’s / alternative lifestyles- / Art in the Sat Village, Downtown lofts & / Rockabilly chillers! / How many Poly players are in the NFL?! / From Joe Jost’s to the Prospector, / Cohiba to The Blue Cafe, / Drinking Sangria on a hot day, / Barflies cruise from / the 49er to Belmont Shore, / Fern’s to the V-Room. / The 562 is a window into the future / with lots of history.. / Like the powerful earthquake of ’33, / The Pike is the place to be, / We salute Cameron Diaz / & her flavorful family.. / Respect to Lakewood, Cerritos, / Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, / Hawaiian Gardens, Whittier, Norwalk, / Cudahy, South Gate, Compton / to damn near Bell Gardens.. / Not to be confused / with the 310, / This is The 562! / In the middle of So. Cal, / but its own little world, / It’s another beautiful day / at El Dorado Park, / in the place / of my birth / & the home of my heart…