Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Once Upon A Time In Heaven

in Culture by

The only place Rick Dalton finds hope
is in the face of a movie poster of himself
much younger, until the expectant swell
of an angel who lives next door
consumes him.

In Los Angeles these neighborhood girls
are stars
and our cars have wings, we fly.
Our drives are the interstate numbers
of music and madness mixed with pointed out
directions; nods and thumbs and feet
measuring the span of front seats and dash-
boards. They remind these lines of traffic,

and our hitchhiking thoughts of sex
and distant redemption, of the sounds
made through a car stereo’s
bouncing against a night windshield, a bug
trapped in amber before the cooling, now filled
with the reflections of neon
for announcing our arrivals.

Everyone is reborn when history is truth
and truth is resurrection. Only Quentin Tarantino
can save us now. The rest of them will die
for every sin we’ve never-ever swam in.

Who knows the circulations of our hearts
better than these backroads, the backgrounds
of a movie lot? In the search for home
we stall, remain stagnant in the cul de sac.

In the search for home
we pretend we can drive away
the animals and the instincts. We mount

horses, wield revolvers, and remember
the Alamo near-misses of Dry Gulch,
Red Insurrection, Bold Bounties
on the Dead. The greed for gritted teeth
in the gold dust feathered rivers and streams
drives us to try and quench our thirsty
circumstances. We lose ourselves

in the places beyond the mountain
and find searching as what we’re
searching for all along.

Do you remember, even, when tragedy
could be measured in singular and knowable
events? In near-misses and unanswered calls?

There’s only one way to get to heaven
in this town: you need to rehearse
and rehearse and rehearse some more.

And there’s only one way to belong. You buy
a house in close proximity to the in-ground pools
of your dreams.

You sketch an outline of a David Hockney
swimming pool the moment after splash.

You’re nobody
until you belong here. But where
were you when the screams were heard
and shattered every fantasy?

Once we learned silver screens
could no longer protect us
they shrunk, closed in and ripped
away our breath. The suffocation
sounds abounded.

I recorded mine inside a swimming pool
until my voice combined with chlorine
and looked even more than clean. There’s
the baptismal of holy water at your favorite

church and then there’s Hollywood
blue that will do anything you need:
It can change courses and currents
and refine you down to nothing
in a single miscued scene.

It can re-render and un-die you.

Forget rebirth; this earth and water
are enough to recover our innocence
and dreams. I remember the sounds
of an angel inviting me

over and in. Finally I’d burned enough
to feel the face of the saints, charred
and ashen and breaking into grimaced
laughter for our sins. Finally we forgive.

When I die, render me in a movie poster
and draw my name in lights
around the frame of any sprawling town
you’ve invented in your spare time
and gloomy reminiscing. Sad is just a state
of mind; like heaven. It’s just the lines
we repeat at night
in the swimming pool of our dreams.

Listen to the other parts and watch
your angels beckon until the gates
swing open to let you in. There’s always time

for another chance in the undeniable
honesty of movie versions of our sprawling
hilled scenarios.

Watch: When we finally find the back
of ambulances and expressways;
when we reunite with the love of our families

and homes—the wilderness tamed
and knowable on horseback—and in
recovering the bounties of our broken
hearts—all of our stuttering sounds
will seem as musical as a knife fight.

Our problem in life isn’t in the movies
we see. Our problem is the soundtracks
we play behind the scenes and in-between.

The sultry score of doom we’d played
behind our lines and closeups, the parts of us
we magnify and signify, regret, and neglect,
defines the circumstances of sequels
for the disenfranchised audience
in our hearts.

Today, again, is the first day
of the end of our lives.



Kurt Cole Eidsvig is a poet, writer, and visual artist whose work has earned awards like the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant and a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Fellowship.

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