LA Weekly Poetry: 'Westmoreland' by Jamie Criss [Video]

Poet Jamie Criss performing at one of Synchronicity LA's monthly "artistic salons."
Poet Jamie Criss performing at one of Synchronicity LA's monthly "artistic salons."

LA Weekly is now taking poetry submissions. Interested in having your work posted right here on our arts blog? Send previously unpublished poems along with an image to go with it to Major bonus points if you send us a video of you performing your work, as today's poet, Jamie Criss, has done.

Criss' poem, "Westmoreland" refers to the location of Synchronicity L.A., an artist cooperative in Harvard Heights. She lives in an extension of it next door called "The Treehouse." Synchronicity houses creatives who share chores and financial obligations, work and play together, and host visitors. As their mission statement indicates, it's a place for "generating community through hospitality, intentionality, artistic action, and a dedication to the reduction of harm." This poem reflects Criss' experience there.

Check out the video and text of her poem after the jump.


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By Jamie Criss

its like a train whistle blowing and that means its time for dinner. mochi the dog yelping and hollering like i was a stranger every time. always somebody new in the backyard; gypsy, johnny depp looking people and i rarely bother to put out my hand, there's always new people in these parts, here one day and gone the next, goodbye forever long lost friend, i'll never see you again. i'm telling this to peter, he thinks i should try to make friends and he's probably right. he makes movies and all of us always have plans for collaborating, for projects, for writing something that will turn into film strip or a music track or a drum beat or poem read aloud in a crowded room with faces turned toward the reader or down at the ground in thought. peter always gets told he looks like buddy holly and he does and he smokes my same brand of cigarettes. we eat our meals together here, pour on hot sauce and tell each other how delicious it is and thank you, i'll do the dishes. sitting on the couch in my own little treehouse with a floor that slants and pigeons in our attic, mermaid green walls and sage burning in the air, cleansing and pure. its just a ganter and a jay walk down venice to the liquor store for soda in the afternoons and fifths of the liquor on the full moon. batting eyelashes, screaming songs, wearing sweats and dirty hair, no one cares, sitting in chairs by a campfire in the cement backyard where julia is naked and the orange tree covers us. listening to jazz alone in my treehouse with pinot and a few pages of checked paper and a glossy eager pen but a dull mind. swirling thoughts of nothing in particular, just a general feeling, getting used to my surroundings, getting used to feeling home again in the city of fallen angels where deboucherous, gorgeous, angelic beings live so near to me i can hear their screams in the night, their shouts of joy, of love and of song when their dancing groove isn't enough so a guitar will do, shaking legs, shaking heads, agreeing and humming and feeling and being. eating salty things and sweet things made by our hands and our love, scooping up spoonfuls of "here, have some." dancing to second hand news, making it loud for the downstairs neighbors but they never say anything, they never mind. and our upstairs neighbors are the pigeons and they play soccer and have sex and have group meetings and make it loud for us so it doesn't matter because what goes around comes around and we might as well share noise if we share walls and share hugs and share food and share parking spaces and bottles of wine and refrigerators and hottubs and beds and words and cigarettes and nail polish and text messages and toothbrushes and six packs and tickles and couches and bus fare and shoes and sweaters and hi-fives and campfire heat and chairs and braiding hair in the middle of the night with tears and "its ok," with backrubs and lying on the floor, deep conversations and sad conversations and funny ones and laughing ones and ones that don't make any sense at all. its like hearing the whistle blow next door and hearing voices from two doors down and music come from across the street and the guys in our shared backyard workin' on their cars and the tamale man and the sound of stars. it's twinkle lights and sunday nights and hopin' this feeling lasts like true love or a honeymoon and sometimes miles davis is the only thing that'll do and then i notice that our street is lined with magnolias and that makes it the most home of all because they don't even know it but they're already my friends, the flowers. they always have been. and i'm always thinking when will they bloom again. and every time they do, they're always bigger than i remember them and i stand aghast at them staring at me, watching me walking out of my house, and into my car, and off to work or coming back with groceries. and this is what it's been, life on westmoreland. so many quick changes; exchanges, people i will never see again, people i will grow old with maybe. so many sips on rims of glasses, strange fashions, fork to plate scrapes, soapy sinks and play dates and i've been feelin' brave and good and healthy and happy and maybe that's what happens when you live with mermaid green walls or maybe that's what happens when you share the things you love. and maybe this place is building everything off one of the biggest lessons you are taught as a kid - to share and that being together is superior to be being alone and since we were all alone once, we had the gumption somehow to find each other, however it may have been and maybe it's only for a short while and maybe for a long one but i'm not really concerned for much of anything past tomorrow and maybe that's why i have been happy and have had peace and maybe you should come to my house i live at 1660 westmoreland boulevard in the city of los angeles just take a walk down western* from the metro on wilshire and pass the korean nail spas and barbeque and acupuncture and korean owned paris bistros and sandwich shops, past the korean mall and el cholo and 7 days tires and campos mexican food and then hang a left on venice by el salsabor and what tin calls "the chill spot" and come down my street and sit on my couch, smoke my weed, watch my videos, play my records and eat my greens, sit on tin's balcony, watch the sunset in LA, my eternal summer. LA i love you, make love to me, drink to me, wink at me, lift your skirt, show me. lift your glass and swallow something sweet and say how much you mean to me and bless me and kiss a friend and say amen, say i love you say amen, i'm glad to be home again.

*Spoken as Washington but per author, should be Western.

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