From dream factory

To nightmare landscape

Eternally self-renewing

And all but used up,

The hot LA nights

Spiked with a Santa Ana wind,

Capote, Faulkner, Mailer, Fitzgerald, et al

Haunting the many-faceted gin-mills,

Looking for characters

For the books they were soon to write,

Hockney hobbling to

The marijuana  store

To smoke away his many ailments,

Drinking Chai tea with the other lunatics,

Down Venice way

The ancient muscle men on Muscle Beach

Doing press-ups

And pull-ups that demean them,

Hollywood writ large on the hills

And a jaded sign on Santa Monica pier

Saying ‘Route 66 ends here’.

See all the down-and-out lickers and fuckers
Down the Embankment they tumble
Unable any longer to bear much reality
Too much self-knowledge and time spent trotting
Between the Tate and the National
Or one of their endless reading groups
Believing they had a story to tell
If only things had worked out,
If only the monkey had hit the right keys.
Hush! if you listen carefully
You can hear the dead click of their keyboards
In the raucousness of the Soho night;
The minicabs, the limos, the rickshaws all screaming
Take me…take me…I’m free
And the hen nighters, the stag nighters,
The whatever-the fuck nighters,
Lingering in pools of their own vomit, waiting for the paramedics to call;
Shirts open to the navel, skirts slit from here to eternity.
Late summer, later winter, who gives a shit?
The restaurants are all full though nobody is really eating
Just being there is what matters.
Smokers stop the traffic inspecting their mobiles
What would a Martian make of that?
No one sees anything anymore
Except the lampposts they walk into;
There are no witnesses to crime;
How anybody falls in love anymore is a puzzle
Eyes no longer meet in lingering amazement
Unless they are reflected
In all those infernal hand-held screens.

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