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Kate Braverman

Lynne Bronstein

Lynne Bronstein's Venice Poems

Ballad of Reading Jail

Wanda Coleman

John Kertisz

Stuart Z. Perkoff

John O'Kane

John Thomas and Philomene Long

Poems and Prose by Philomene and John

Last Days of John Thomas

The Beats: An Existential Comedy

Laureate at Ceremony

My Philomene

Illuminating the Wasteland

Majid Naficy

Van Gogh's Ear

Clair Horner

Eavesdropping on the Boardwalk
by Anne Alexander

Zendik poem:
Buck-or-Two Blues Rap

Gas House beat HQ


In Venice CA















Venice Poems

The first three are reprinted with the kind permission of the Beachhead Collective from the Free Venice Beachhead, January 1980

Venice 90291 Fact or Fiction?
Rick Davidson

Venice? Which Venice?
West, East, South?
North Venice?

Black, Brown, Red, or White Venice?

Old, young, middle age Venice?
Just arrived or half a century more Venice?
There's Poor Venice, Rich, or not so.
Working Venice, trying to, and unable to.
Of course there's Venice Drugs - every kind.
Certainly political Venice: conservative, radical, middle-of-the-road.
Some that don't even know; plenty that don't care.

Some believe that Venice is just along the beach:
Ocean Front Walk Venice; smiling,
the Ducks never leave the Canals.

How do you judge a town?

Where I grew up they said that Coconut Grove
wasn't a place at all, but a state of mind.
That's how I feel about Venice, 90291.
So that,
Venice is that spot in back of the head
or top of the heart
that holds you long
and even when you're forced to leave,
you find it's with you still.
Can't explain it...it's impossible to understand.

If I had to guess at the commonality
of all the diverse Venices
I'd say it's its


The indefinable process of living...that's what Venice is.
Unable to be defined
it's unable to be controlled, limited, boxed-in, dated;
unable to be destroyed.

It's a myth.
It doesn't exist.
Yet, fifty thousand humans sing its name.
It's here, there, gone,
back again.
Now weak, ever strong.

Lose it and you've lost the future.
Find it and you're always home.

Venice is!

Arnold Springer

Absent minded malicious boys
Hurled chunks of Abbot Kinney's
concrete at the dicks and geese
on Linnie Canal.
Past the cascading fire red
bougainvillea naked
Painters climbed ladders
eagerly into second story bedrooms,
sketching murals in the sand
--Stop Capitalist Speculation in Venice--

On the bridge over the Ekaterinaskii
Steve the Fair stroked the
four bronze equestrian statues,
(A gift from one dreamer to another,)
and helped the law police his prism.
Two gypsy women passed
the only sounds and smells'
we'd heard that day of
far off Istanbul or Afghanistan,
Flaunting their life before ours.

In the square before St. Isaacs Cathedral
Tatiana danced between the stars,
Gathered signatures beneath her tears,
Then sped away to lose the hours gathered too
long ago.
A softspring dress sailed beside her thoughts,
Gathered the images of gods new colony
And wrapped the dream in pastel'd sings of
our gray-blue past.

Chinese-Finnish Olga
Walked the wide brimmed
Straw hat over Howland Canal,
Laughed at the big black man
wearing white Maidenform panties
and cock-a-doodle-do flags
of many nations in her hair.

Josef Haifeiskii was suddenly forty going on;
Curly hair blacked around
disoriented eyes set in a
pock-marked swarthy face.
While the festival died he
ate corn on the cob out front
at the Old Sundown;
Waiting for the funk band
to stomp his blond haired dream
into the community boardwalk.

And what if it all smacked
of the negation personified.
And what if the sky would
never turn the color of revolution's fire.
Our beautiful lady, wrapped
in clouds of heavy gray mist,
Let the shroud dip softly from her
milk white shoulder, and
motioned us to her shadow.

Dolan Andrews

man made myths
limping lovers
a cradle for folly.

Suck them in and puff-up
long dead hopes

This surf ever-churns fantasy
as dog krap nurtures nice tomorrows


We find love each sunny morning.
Under this grime exists a naive purity
like the forth face of God
on the brink of a new daybreak.

And, peeling-back this foreskin of fraud
we sometimes glimpse a pink and pretty self.

God bless you Venice
It hurts to stay here
but where else could I
again hope to glimpse my true self?


not the ocean, not this time
Marty McConnell

is it the light, or some crazy permission of lipstick
on cheekbones. fluorescent. I want to know
where the blondes dressed as gypsies
are going. Saturday in Venice, not Italy, California.
a fantastic party, play in dress rehearsal, orgy.
not orgy, too many clothes, too elaborate
for imminent removal. small mirrors on his vest,
boots, her hat is fur, necessarily fake. earlier,
the beautiful dreadlocked man lifted his son
onto a stool, then down again. I want to be held
like that, raised and lowered like a cigarette, easy
and burning. the girl with the braids smiles, I'm part
of the circle or it's just the light again, night outside, in here
thick salt air, pot smoke from the sidewalk.
polyester shirt adjusts his jester hat, it's not surreal.
it's California, Saturday, Abbott Habit, cold,
an ocean over our shoulders. seeming to be asleep.


From one of Jim Morrison's poems, which reported

an appearance of the devil
on a Venice canal.
Running, I saw a Satan
or Satyr, moving beside

from Free Venice Beachhead, February 1981 #134


Blazin' #'s in Venice

(2/8/79 andres castro
Venice, Ca.
at ricky's pad)

empty hunger
quart in hand
the clatter of stairs
& it's gone

a paper receipt
Sav-on 101
red ink, rough edged
scrap of paper

this one's
pissed off
two six-packs
& howling forgotten whiskey

struggling in the dark
"where's the dime?"
next to unseen
heels - wall

obliquely parked
limousine aerial
brown sherman
of cool shiny dust

kind of funny feeling
scoring on a green bench
instead of lit basement
filled w/mattresses

your coffee's cold
subterranean passage
to other side

iron railing end
of yellow lights,
rough walls
& smell of urine

where's the picture
crashed on couch
of cowboy music
sittin' in the park

green grass,
broken, toothy foundations
scaring up the night,
on streaming dreamy canal

carta blancas &
pieces of home
gone time spiritint
life, people

two quarts down,
a broken bottle
splattering glass
& thunderbird wine


Venice Denizen

12/7/80 karp
from Free Venice Beachhead March 1981

And Captain Bob is on
his feet again?

like a director

harry is playing
the same old
non-song with
the sense
to move along

Roll on.

Eat the tide

Can ya lift that weight?

have to wait
a team for a game ofB-

time The
forgotten element
Here. ride The
high flow
surf on The

some gone ones

Some chance! for re-


You can
make it Here.

the SCENE's so thick even
YOU can
cut thru


a silver satin
aardvark fabric.

Untitled poem by Andrew Von Sonn, 1980

(webslave's note: Von Sonn was the originator of the Cops'n'Dopers book and game)

Can't stay still
no longer
Time for me
to fly
Can't stay
still no
longer -
Gotta move
before I die
Life it
is for liv'n
Not for sittin


Race Through the Clouds

by Gordon Wagner

They were tearing down the Venice Pier.
Nothing was there anymore
only a bleak white beach
rotting planks
a strong smell of urine
one structure half standing
tracks spiralling to the sky.
Two clouds, as if they were talons
reaching down from the sun.
There were four signs
I was thirty-two then.

(The album Bedouin's Paradise, by composer/keyboardist/vocalist Jeanne Newhall, was inspired by Wagner's poem depicting the Venice Beach scene in the 1920's.)



Anne Alexander

From a wheelchair on the boardwalk
he issues proclamations
street poetry:
"The old man is drinkin' and
he doesn't care who knows it
'cause it's Thursday."



(I wrote this poem and read it aloud, standing on the brick fireplace at the Venice West Coffee House in December of '65. Gluefish Lou)

A pumpkin and a cantaloupe
came to my door,
one day,
--but didn't ring.
That was a long time ago
back when my life was still cogs and digits
and IBM cards,
clicking along in pythagorean glee.
so I clicked on over to the front door
and peeked out to see them.
Slightly irritated by my intrusion
into their privacy
but pretending not to show it,
they continued in a bitone
scanned well, incidentally)
the unfortunate demise of a friend
of a friend of theirs
named Pouncing Rime,
who had died just before the
Great Ode
was dropped on Hiroshima
in exchange
for the Japanese Beetle
(another attempt
to conquer the world
by oriental carmakers).
I had known Pouncing quite well,
so I knocked at the door.
I have always hated breakfast.
A leek, a lock of teak, a sock,
a sickening pocket of picketing clocks,
Or so I thought.
They gathered
themselves up at the peephole.
Who's there!
A pact, a Sikh, a sack, a Pict,
shellack--depict a slack in sticks,
C turned to P.
You think it's
too late?
Don't be obscene.
And not heard?
I'm sorry, but I AM a pumpkin,
after all!
The cantaloupe spoke to me
in a reassuring clickety click:
Clickety click
click clickety ding
rrrrrrrrrrr clunck.
I recognized the quotation instantly
as having once spoken by a cousin
of a 1956 Underwood portable I met
in a bar once and tried to rape later.
I'm sorry (I said), they only let me use
crayons here which go
ph phh phh ph---
And faster than I could smell
a tentacle grew in
and depressed my TRANSFER ON ZERO button,
setting me into an endless loop,
then it reached for the OFF




Vince Beck

when the poets
stash of words
has been emptied
like a beast of prey
hungry for the kill
he must rely on cunning
for cunning is his only skill

so the poet
hunts nocturnally
hidden in the dark
all he has is his journal
the pages that were new
slowly begin to fill up
with words expressing
history and/or.
dreams of you.



listening to a recording
the dark poets voice
reading stu perkoffs
"riff for the lady",
lightened him up for me
he was a dark blur
in my memory
outside the Venice west
in the breezeway
talking story
he never had a face
I never heard his voice
he was Jimmy's friend
a poet in a dark place
from a dark city
gave me dark thoughts
opening a vial
spilling poison
into his veins
spreading to his pen
black on white
bare bones of a city
whose people
never look you in the eye
and stab you in the back


the good thing I left Venice
when many were leaving
in pine boxes
drugs took over
East L.a. whiz bangers
Los Angeles the only place
you can go for a vacation
and come home an ex con
I left winners....
a little girl born
in the dawn of a down n out city
peoples eyes were empty
and their hands full
of red n blue death
I lost em all those poets
who inspired/the craft
Jimmy whos ax
was black ink
so the blood wouldnt show
Brooklyn born/renegade poet
rode off to Denver
six guns a legend
blazing a path
for "the kid" and the "croupier press"
layin it down
a legend in stone
on top the mountain
where the wind blows
your words...

Venice Cats
Gluefish Lou

Come sit on a post with me
and we shall serenade the neighborhood.

You are so hot
when you fluff your tail
and hiss like that.

Look I know a little dive
under the pier
where we can feast
on fish heads
and chase dogs for dessert.

There's always jazz to hear
from the alley
in back of the pet store
on Washington

And afterwards we can head down
under the bridge on howland canal
where ol' six toes
has a catnip patch.

many a night i have woke up
with a catnip hangover
under the house
beside the dell avenue playground
(where the old woman leaves out leftovers)

i'll show you around
where the old aragon ballroom was
over to where the boats go in in out
of the marina

many a night
i spent
steaming up the windows
watching the boats
go in and out of the marina

"c'est la vie, c'est la vie", she
would say,
"there's a dance in the old dame yet."

damn i miss ol' mehitabel

What I saw in Venice
Ruth Clark 1979

Puffer and the banana man is gone
Arturo fashions roach clips
From dead Petaluma chickens ---
Or vanishing condors --
Genteel Dan disappeared long ago --
Or was it yesterday -- leaving
"Venice, An Urban Fantasy"
Lying on the bathroom floor
Where the toilet paper
Used to be
Carol hanging effigies, baking cookies
Chuck taking off to pan for gold --
John Haag running for President --
Shahs running wild over the world
In exile --

Dennis Holt 1976

Walking through the grassy hillock park
Westminster Clubhouse Pacific and Main
skirting the range of the sprinklers
a small gang of current, bum-beatniks
scruffy and slouching along

I think of Bohemain dignity
proudness of bearing

One half-shaved one the oldest & walking last
approaches me as they pass by
to look for a dry place
on the being-watered lawn

"Say, are you connected with the hydrants here?"
"No, I'm not" I tell him
not even trying to stifle the chortle
spraying with a rainbow from my face



© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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