Sunday, April 21, 2013

Taking the train from Fullerton to Los Angeles: a photo-poem

"I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?"

--T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

I'm taking the Amtrak train
from Fullerton to Los Angeles,

staring out the windows
at the passing landscape,
the backs of industrial buildings,

rows and rows of warehouses

graffiti, on a wall it says,
"This is a canvas."

Post-post industrial landscape...
Is this beautiful or horrifying?
Or both?

Piles of concrete, sand,

metal, dump trucks,

some kind of tubing,
palates, razor wire,
tanks filled with chemicals.

Things I am not meant to see,
as a consumer.

School buses,
business with names like
Electric Sales Unlimited,

Preferred Freezer Services,
The Dependable Company.

Low income housing,
the backs of houses,
a concrete river that is not a real river,

a field of dirt,
piles of discarded rail tracks and wood,
freight cars,

metal containers with strange symbols
filled with God knows what,

Twelve big rigs parked neatly in a  row,
power lines as far as the eye can see,

thirty-seven Smart & Final semi trailers,
acres of huge metal cranes 
for loading freight cars.

And in the distance now, 
the hazy LA skyline,
the downtown financial district.

The LA River,
with its huge swaths 
of white and brown paint,

covering what used to be
miles of graffiti,
street art, 
some by now-famous artists
who show their work 
in galleries and museums,

covered by a staccato of paint,
a multi-million dollar effort
to "clean up" the river bed.

Housing projects with numbered buildings,
bales of recyclable plastic.

And as we pull into Union Station,
an elderly couple
struggles with their baggage.

1 comment:

  1. I like your pictures of your trip. There are so many things to see. I always like the EL Pato hot sauce factory along the "river" banks. I will try to capture it on my trip tomorrow. So you can see it too. Thank you for... well, just thank you Jesse. Oh - it's Pat Kelly - but I have to choose a profile.