Sadly, nobody ever discovered any poets at the Schwab’s Drug Store soda fountain on Sunset Boulevard.  Even Lana Turner wasn’t discovered at Schwab’s, as the legend would have you believe.  Truth is she’d ditched school to hang out at an eatery called the Top Hat Café when a Billy-somebody, editor at the Hollywood Reporter, approached her with the catchy line, “How’d you like to be a movie star?” 

But no one ever discovered any poets at the Top Hat Café either.   

The young Bob Evans was shored up alongside the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel – working the phone for his sports clothes business, Evan-Picone – when Norma Schearer peered over the chrome-pink rim of her sunglasses and decided he resembled a matador.  In no time he found himself on the set of The Sun Also Rises, striving to make passes around a bull and act at the same time. 

No one’s ever discovered a poet lingering near the pool of The Beverly Hills Hotel, nor even at the Sahara Motor Lodge. 

But here at Speechless, a poet can get discovered.  We now have people in the field, talent scouts, sharp of eye and ear, who will be attending readings around town.  If they discover you, examples your work will show up in this column. After that it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunity.  We at Speechless can’t do everything.


November ’03: Terry Stevenson Discovers Virginia Anderson 

Virginia Anderson was publisher and editor of Daybreak, and her poems have appeared in many journals including Rivertalk.   She’s participated in the Ojai Poetry Festival.   

Poet and essayist Terry Stevenson selected the following poems from her October reading at The Sunland/Tujunga Library Series, sponsored by Friends of the Library, with support from Poets & Writers, Inc., and curated by Elsa Frausto.


Introduction to “Gangstas”: 

“When I was a teenager, my friends and I liked to imitate gangster talk from the movies of the day. This was long before “The Godfather”.

 

Virginia Anderson

GANGSTAS

 

Dey was some real mean guys in dose days,

tough guys.

Dey spoke outa da sides of der mouz

da way I’m doin’.

Richard Widmark was one of da meanest.

He pushed da ole lady in her wheelchair

down da stairs and didn’t even

try to pick her up after.

He was dat mean.

He was meaner dan Edward G. Robinson, George Raft,

meaner dan James Cagney.

When dose guys didn’t like ya, you

was soon wearin’ cement shoes.

When dey come after ya, ya was good as dead;

ya was nuttin’ but meat, I swear.

Dey called it “bein’ rubbed out.”

You always knew when dey was around,

it began to rain and no one smiled.

Dey was always askin’ each utter

whatdayahearfromdamob?


Ansukido is a combination of prayers and laying on of hands, a ritual used to exorcise a demon.

 

Virginia Anderson

THE SHAPES OF SILENCE
 

Two Korean missionaries were sentenced to state prison for their roles in a deadly exorcism performed upon a Korean woman, Kyung-Fa Chung.  She was beaten to death during the ritual known as Ansukido.  She had been arrogant and disobedient to her husband; it was said, and therefore suspected of being possessed by a demon.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, James A. Albrecht, cleared the missionaries of murder charges and they were charged instead with involuntary manslaughter. –THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 25, 1997

 

The room opens its windows

to the sun

 

but all traces of you

are gone,

 

Kyung-Ja-Chung,

 

no scent,

no fingerprints;

 

the walls are newly painted;

the floor gleams.

 

Yet, you

were here.

 

Five hours of Ansukido

 

The delicate materials

worn by a woman

 

are not meant

for beatings.

 

Sixteen ribs broken

 

“Ill considered

conduct,”

 

the judge said

 

of the missionaries.

But no one mentioned you.

 

You must have spoken

all day, the day before,

 

a tumble of sounds

as you cooked or shopped

 

or walked

to church

 

or told stories

or ran

 

with your children

murmuring their names.

 

I see you,

a blur of colors,

 

a medley.

And the last day?

 

Did you say

a prayer?

 

Did you ask

for water?

 

No one mentions

the demon.

 

You must have been

well-behaved.

 

And all of us

who read the story,

 

are we not

well-mannered too?

 

We ask no questions,

make no outcry,

 

no curl of smoke

above the city.

 


Terry Stevenson's poems have appeared in Electrum, Poetry/L.A., Rattle, Spillway and ONTHEBUS. He appears in several anthologies, including Shards, Off-Ramp, Corners (all published by the Pasadena Poets), Truth and Lies that Press for Life (Artifact Press, Ltd.) and 13 LA Poets (Bombshelter Press), and So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets (Tebot Bach). In 1999 he was chosen to read in the distinguished Los Angeles Poetry Festival/Beyond Baroque "Newer Poets" reading at the Los Angeles Central Library.


 

 


Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach