Poem of the Week | June 18, 2013

This week we’re serving up a fresh new poem by Siel Ju. Ju’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, LIT, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. The recipient of the Academy of American Poets’s Joan Giles Poetry Prize, she holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She can be found in Santa Monica, Calif., and at sielju.com.

Author’s Note:

Sometimes the weather in Los Angeles is so perfect that even when you’re feeling pretty good, you wonder if maybe you shouldn’t be feeling better, or at least somehow feeling the sensations of pleasure in a more visceral way. This experience is even more disconcerting when there’s a long string of perfect weather days, which in L.A., is often. I wrote this poem during one of those strings. The Miracle Mile of the title is a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles near the La Brea Tar Pits. If you walk around that area, you’ll cracks in the hot sidewalks where the tar has oozed through, bubbling seductively.


Miracle Mile


The thinking game plays on. Halogen skies
and digital billboards snooze their big city dreams,
punctuated by the occasional minaret.
A sidewalk shudders unguents through
earthquake cracks, all rhyme and violence. I skim
the city’s black tar glyphs. I’m now well-read.
Each morning an absolution for the brain,
my slow sycophantic goading of it
into sticky fissures and origami folds.
It’s a form of happiness, surely, too erudite
to be understood.