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.


January ’04:  Larry Colker Discovers Teresa Willis

Teresa Willis, host of the 2nd Friday Poetry Series at the Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center, is a native of Kentucky, a transplant to New York and finally a resident of Los Angeles. Her chapbook "Heart Closet" was published by Cassowary Press in 1999. In addition to her poetry, Teresa writes songs, plays and screenplays. She also performs with Vox Femina, L.A.'s premiere women's choir, and with her band Third Door Down. 

TERESA WILLIS

If Only My Boyfriend Would Slick His Hair Back 

he'd be a detective in a hour long sixties TV series
a rebel PI with leather shoulder holster and big gun
and fast red car to do chases in
with a hard last name like
Chud or Martinak. 

If only he would slick his hair back
I'd be Peggy or Gail or Julie
his innocuous Gal Friday
the only one to say his soft first name
Jeff or Steve
loving him quiet from behind a desk.
Nobody knows I only have one leg
'cause I never get up. 

And we would run for six seasons.
America would love us on
Wednesday nights at 9/8 central.
He'd grow a mustache in the fourth season
but America would write in
”no mustache“
and he'd gladly shave it. 

And when the network said we were cancelled
the writers write a two hour finale where
he confesses his love to me
after shooting three drug dealer scumbags.
We have a wedding.
They shoot around my missing leg. 

Then the show ends and off-camera he loves me too
for years now and we live in Malibu
all rich and syndicated.
We are so happy. 

But guess what?
He won't slick his hair back.


Larry Colker has co-hosted the weekly Redondo Poets reading for five years. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in RATTLE, Spillway, Pearl, Solo and Cider Press Review, among other journals, and in anthologies from Tebot Bach and the Valley Contemporary Poets. His chapbook What the Lizard Knows was published in 2003. Larry taught at USC for several years before turning to technical writing. He lives in San Pedro.


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.

VIRGINIA ANDERSON

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”.

 

 

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?


The Shapes of Silence

 

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

 

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 Los Angeles 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