"L.A., Loiterings" by Larry Lewis

April 20, 2010
By Anonymous

The poem “L.A. Loiterings” is one of the strangest poems I’ve ever read, but is also one of the most emotional poems I’ve seen. In just a few short lines, the author tells a tragic truth of life for the elderly and shows an example of a life wasted at a young age. The poem doesn’t go into deep descriptions and hardly shows the reader a clear picture, but the emotional weight of the poem lingers long after it is read.

The first part of the poem is called “Convalescent Home”, which doesn’t really describe what seems to the happening to the old people in the poem. The term “convalescent” means a place where someone of poor health goes to get better, but instead of getting well, the patients at this convalescent house are being drug and simply slipping from reality. “High on painkillers, the old don’t hear their bones hollering anything tonight,” the first phrase in the poem paints the picture of elderly people taking a lot of pills and sleeping peacefully with no pain. But they are also numbing themselves out to the real world and disappearing from real life.

The finishing phrase of this part of the poem says, “They are the small animals vanishing at the road’s edge everywhere,” and also evokes a strange emotion somewhere between pity and disgust. Most people don’t think twice about driving by roadkill; they are too busy in their fast lives to stop and mourn a dead squirrel on the side of the road. The author seems to be suggesting that the old people at this convalescent home are in a similar situation to the roadkill of the world; their families and friends with busy lives are too busy to stop and feel sorry for the elderly people at the home. And to escape the pain physically, and perhaps mentally as well, the old people take their drugs, go to sleep, and seem to vanish unnoticed from the rest of the world.

The second part of the poem is called “The Myth” and it follows the same pattern as the first part. In just fourteen short lines, the author offers the reader a glimpse into the sad life of a go-go girl and paints the picture of her life in dull, lifeless colors. The girl in the poem yawns (whether she is tired of bored isn’t indicated) and she “glints”, like “the screen flickering in an empty movie house far into the night”. This description seems to say that at one point she had something going on interesting in her life, but now that chapter is over; the movie is over and everyone has gone home. But still she flickers with light, as if still expecting another story to take place soon and another audience to come back and see her. She seems to not have moved on from whatever more exciting life she led before. Her hair has turned green from a cheap dye that her mother stole from a store and “her eyes are flat and still as thumbprints”. She seems to have nothing to see, no exciting new thing to take in, and so her eyes just sit there, flat and still and bored.

Both these short poems within this poem depict sad truths about certain lives around the world, about forgotten grandparents and young lives left with nothing new or exciting to stimulate them anymore. The title of the poem, “L.A. Loiterings” suggests that these stories take place in LA, but really they could take place anywhere in the world. These poems don’t give us a beginning, middle, and end that wraps up neat and nice. Instead, the poems offer a small window into these lives and we are left feeling incomplete and frustrated because that’s how the characters in the poem are probably feeling. The overwhelming emotion in just a few short lines suggests that even in these small lives depicted, the feelings and emotions that make up the characters is more than the reader completely understands.

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