Lauren Pope

Art: Slow West

Exhibit A:
Special Collections,
The Getty Centre

The display:
a black velvet backdrop
within a cube of darkness. 

Even with the spotlight,
words lose their meaning
in calligraphy so old.

The ancient text floats
the way stars appear to;
the way the drowned rabbit did
———against us
in the Jacuzzi that night.


Exhibit B:
Float Lab, Venice Beach

Because I am now a starfish,
I think of Sandra’s body
splayed out in the brownstone
two buildings down from here –
a needle stuck in her arm
the way a golf flag marks
the hole.

I used to love the pale skin
of heroin addicts, not those
who used for years,
but the newer ones,
their eyes so wide and unblinking
they could swallow the world.
My toes climb the plastic walls –
not like trash bags, but the thick kind
you’d wrap a body in.

I wonder what all the people
we used to know are doing.
I picture them stumbling off the beach
after the drum circle
in the middle of summer
floating in a tank of Nag Champa
and their own sweat –
the scent of Dogtown contained
the way it was a million lives ago.

I think of you in the tank next to mine –
though less so in thought;
of what we didn’t say
to each other in the car
when the hard words
got lodged in the throat
and nothing came out.

Lauren Pope runs a summer school for literature and creative writing students at the University of Edinburgh. Her poetry has appeared in various online and print journals, and this year, she was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Competition. While she will always be an Angeleno, she now calls Edinburgh home.

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