March 12, 2014

Flowers of Rad

by Sampson Starkweather



I want to write a poem as long as California 

like lying on a couch forever 

as a serious man takes notes on your dreams in a little book

maybe I mean I want to talk forever 

but is there even a difference anyway 

like my uncle who went walking 

and never stopped 

or that day on the LA Freeway 

when a horse got loose, people freaking out 

cars honking and skidding 

and me and my sister rooting for the horse 

who I still imagine, 20 years later 

trotting around the LA Freeway 

a living argument against time 

as people drive right past her 

without even noticing a horse 

she keeps on, at home in the gridlock 

a phenomenon in the smog 

we want to think she is looking for something 

but she is past panic now 

content, her heart a part of that freeway 

unaware that I 

am the one telling this story 

and in this version 

no one listens to anyone's dreams 

and that couch is the one we broke off on 

while your parents were gone 

blood on the cushion 

which wouldn't come out 

no matter what we tried 

so we gave up 

and just laid there, sweating 

in the bliss of thinking nothing 

and somewhere 

a startled horse 

is not smashed by a semi 

on the LA Freeway 

on a summer day in 1988



Copyright � 2014 by Sampson Starkweather. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem 

"Pop Quiz: This poem is about:

a.) A horse (possibly Mr. Ed). 

b.) A mashup of a Jack Spicer poem which ends by never ending, an amalgamation of several Larry Levis poems in which horses and LA feature prominently, mixed with early Wu Tang lyrics that eerily mirrored my teen existence. 

c.) My uncle who walked off into the Sonoran desert...who is still walking...

d.) A signed confession of the defendant in the ongoing lawsuit of Time & The State of California vs. Sampson Starkweather and His Ridiculous Little Dreams.

e.) A not-so-subtle product placement for couches and the uselessness of truth.

f.) The way LA in the 80s (especially from the point-of-view of two kids from NC in the backseat of their grandparent's Lincoln Continental) was like a backdrop for a movie about LA in the 80s, impossibly clich�--hookers and poodles, hot pink sunsets and palm trees--an elaborate play with set design and costumes and extras all put on exclusively for those two kids in the backseat on their way up a state that never ends, past twisted manzanita where ranch-red earth meets lush impossible green in a choked and tortured air where everything seemed to be the new end of desire, where wanting was a way life lived secretly in the backseats of the world, which would be lost in the matrix of memory only to tumble out on the other side as misremembered magic."

--Sampson Starkweather  

Most Recent Book by Starkweather

The First 4 Books of Sampson Starkweather

(Birds, LLC, 2013)







Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-A-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. Browse the Poem-A-Day Archive.  

Sampson Starkweather is the author of The First 4 Books of Sampson Starkweather (Birds, LLC, 2013). He lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

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