Poetry

Poem: Venice Beach When I First Knew It – By Lisa Marguerite Mora

Venice Beach When I First Knew It

was a poor beach town the remnant
of one man’s dream. And then it got a reputation
but the reputation was borne of ideas that others thought
but did not necessarily live–
So other people at least twice removed grabbed the strange and weird and
sometimes
whimsical balloons of the strange ideas and head out to Venice to live and
set the balloons free thinking that Venice was
a circus
a free for all
a fuck it just do it zone
But the Venice I knew when I was a little girl
was gentle with retired folk
driving tiny two seater electric buggys.
Open air trams deposited people from pier
to pier. Refugees from the Second World War
ambled in the sun, made a life and looked to recover
from terrible things. There were avenues of houses pulled down
—whole avenues on the edges of Santa Monica
leveled to make an endless parking lot. That was the beginning
(of when I knew Venice).

Everything changed. Overnight. 1967.
Flower children, drum beats in the air, the twilight filled with a dark party
unease. Pot. Incense. Sandalwood. Patchouli. For some it was peace & love.
For me: worry. Under my feet rumblings I could feel but not understand,
watching with child eyes as everything fell apart
it fell apart and while people loved and protested and threw things and
blew up things, and said hey man and peace man and you’re
so beautiful man and they meant it—it still all fell apart

And then the clowns came in… I don’t know around 1975 and then it wasn’t
even hey man and peace man and you’re so beautiful man with true
ingenuity.
It was forget who you are, you didn’t like it much anyway and come join
the circus.
Be this Somebody Else’s Idea. Be this other thing because I heard you can
get away with it here in Venice. You can be anything you want to be. In
Venice. And who knows? Maybe from there you can get into Hollywood, man.
And then you can really be somebody
else.

BIO: Lisa Marguerite Mora is a novelist, prize winning poet, and story
editor. She conducts workshops and offers literary services at
www.barringtoneditorial.com. Work published or forthcoming includes
Rattle, ONTHEBUS, Literary Mama, Public Poetry Series, Cultural Weekly,
and Rebelle Society.

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