Old Words, Los Angeles

I go to the Chateau Marmont. I sit in the lobby and watch wanna-be-actresses all afternoon.

There’s two.

I get drunk.

I try to think how to conjure wood, in the mind, without saying wood. Without handing out a card.

All the girls are wearing too much make up. But they animate quite well. They sit still well too. Something, I can not do. It’s about the face — and I hear I have it, but I know it’s more the aura. And I don’t look like these girls. They look the same. Dark.

Someone wrote me, “You are so wonderful in real life. I don’t doubt you’ll be wonderful as an actress.”

That’s what Milton’s teaching.

I still want to be James Dean.

And my tea came cold.

And I’m drunk.

I think about being spoon fed dessert for the first time, and not wanting to open my mouth.

I want to ask the younger girl her age. She came with her mother.

She can’t be more than fifteen.

No one says bless you when I sneeze for the fourth. For the fifth.

For the sixth time. (It’s the wine.)

The other girl looks like someone I could have known in high school. Who went to Crossroads, who went to Winward, who’s father is someone big. She talks like it. Twisting her rings, voice a little lisp. She uses her mouth a lot.

There is a smudge across the wall of the bathroom stall. It looks like blood. But I don’t want to assume. It could be nail polish. But blood never looks like it’s supposed to. Either too red, too dark, too brown.

The waiter doesn’t pay very much attention to me. But when he finally smiles, I wonder if he’s paid to, or if he wants to, of if he thinks I might be somebody he can’t place.

“So there’s somebody in the penthouse.” I overhear. And there is a girl outside who I am greatly attracted to. With her very short hair.

I’m dying to hear her talk. French? British? She can’t possibly be American. No American girl carries herself like that. Sets her mouth in that way.

It’s clear, I haven’t learnt a thing. Wanting another glass of wine.

The girl looks like she could have gone to Bard. Was one of the elite.

The other, the wanna-be-actress, feels by putting her hand to her chest, but that’s all.

It’s been looking like it’ll rain. All afternoon. I wish it would. Just do one or the other.

Skinny and in black, a newly arrived waiter holds hands with the hostess in the foyer. That’s why I come. There are creatures here. I come to watch. To write. In character. I didn’t put on my perfume.

I wish it would snow. Missing a park in upstate New York where I would sit for an hour or two and smoke. Listening to Pet Sounds, Up The Bracket, Wish You Were Here, The Velvet Underground live in 1969. Where I wrote one poem, where I took a few lovers, and R. when it rained, and after she’d done speed for the first time.

That girl, scratching her head, the devil may care, maybe she looks like a boy I slept with once. She walks by, she’s French. That’s what it is, I still want another glass of wine.

I’ve come as a character, shirt tucked in. Boots under jeans. A red sweater. I’ve got the feeling I’ve stayed too long. I’m on my own. Nothing to discuss. And the ones I was looking at have left. I wonder then, if I am noticed. Running out of space. And a man arrives. And with all his sheets of paper, I thought he was a piano player.

Should I say it again? People don’t usually pay attention to me, cat hanging on to my tongue.

“Do I miss New York?” The man asks, then points to the window.

People don’t like to be looked at. Not here. It feels so much like rain, and I’ve run out of lines.

Only once, has someone ever bought me a drink.

In April. Last year.

Now it’s just me and some man in the room. Someone I think I should recognize, and I’ve brought no poetry with me today.

Nothing with which I could normally be identified.

No scent. No lines.

“Like Brando.”

“I would ask Phil.”

“If you need some dialogue … ”

He’s a comedian. He tells me from across the room. After he’s hushed a waiter who knows him. “Can’t you see that woman is writing?”

I need someone to write things to. And unfortunately it’s you.

“You’re all paid out,” they finally tell me. “I’m just filling your tea pot for you.” TC mark

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