Inland Empire

The edge of Los Angeles trickles like bile
to the edge of the San Bernardino shit hole
where the desert jostles uncomfortably beside
new homes and new wives and new trees
tied to wood posts, too young to grow strong on their own,
not accustomed to the desert climate that we
tend to forget is our climate.

The shopping malls sited 3 to each city street
beckon the preteen girls, silicone mothers,
fathers who count their debt the same way you count stars.
New cars and new boats and new dreams
paid with plain stamps and minimum monthly payments,
forty hours per week driving an old backhoe,
overtime when you can get it.

The mountains crease into shadow in the evening
when the smog crafts a witch’s halo of twilight
and offers twenty minutes of beauty despite
dead cans and dead butts and dead dogs
rotting in the gutter that flows to the ocean
fifty miles west, a million worlds away.
Used-up refuse, here to Texas.

I-15 cuts the gray mountains, cuts the suburbs;
maybe I’ll ride it right up to Salt Lake City,
maybe take a detour to Vegas or Denver.
Pack the old Dodge, pay the last rent
and find a shit hole not so close to the ocean
or girls who kill with a glance and a bikini strap.
Us Inland folk need to go east.

Seth David Asher has worked as a script development
intern under Richard Donner, and as a production
assistant on numerous independent films. He currently
teaches English at Cal Poly, Pomona, where he is
pursuing graduate study in rhetoric and writing.

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