Bill Mohr has a Ph.D. in literature from University of California, San Diego
  • Bill Mohr has a Ph.D. in literature from University of California, San Diego
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1967: “My World Fell Down”

  • Imperial Beach remains remote and intolerable,
  • Both in memory and all its stammering desire.
  • My radio flourished with L.A.’s visionary decibels.
  • I feared its LSD as friendly fire.
  • The hippies seemed indulgent to a fault,
  • None of them theirs, and if the Asian wars
  • Demanded disobedience, was not their cult
  • Supreme in tantalizing escapist doors?
  • And then “My World Fell Down.” Heard only once,
  • Its interlude of cosmic comedy
  • Sufficed to wake me up and remedy
  • My isolation from a hip scene’s clowns.
  • The poem itself arrived with glowing tip
  • To balance on the colossal tilt of Sunset Strip.

The Flub

  • It’s almost always singular: The Flub,
  • the kind of ouch, abashed, exceeding stub
  • of toe, or murmuring your lover’s name
  • as if seduction were your favorite game.
  • The mocking gossip cannot be curtailed:
  • why should it be? The fun’s regaled
  • in millions of strange mimicries of masks,
  • in parodies of ordinary tasks:
  • Announcement of a wedding, when divorce
  • is launching on its first affair, with force
  • majeure hilarity; the role you’re cast
  • in takes more talent than your agent passed
  • you off as having. Blame rehearsal time
  • for leaving reputation dipped in slime.
  • Apology does not suffice as comeback.
  • The word’s pinned to your forehead with a thumbtack.
  • The envelope that’s opened with such hopes
  • is torn in half. The after-party mopes.
  • A life that managed to deflect Mistakes
  • must now commiserate with Total Fakes.
  • An idiot takes pride in getting his free ride;
  • You get the job for which you’re overqualified,
  • The Flub confirms what every loser knows
  • by heart: he got the thorns, deserved the rose.

The Laugh Outside

  • I went outside just now and laughed.
  • Deliberately, slowly laughed.
  • I could hear myself from where I was sitting;
  • it took a while to get the conversation started
  • again, once we were both face-to-face.
  • “Good to be on laughing terms, at least.”
  • I chuckled intentionally, to reconfirm
  • the fickle spontaneity of free will.
  • And then the laugh got serious: A soulful laugh.
  • Like a cold, rainy night becoming dawn.
  • Not everything’s absurd, the laugh admitted.
  • Just enough to keep the giggles going.
  • As I explained to “myself,” some ontological
  • disputes don’t change. It’s like predestination:
  • I was meant to laugh. You weren’t.
  • If you can’t laugh at me for saying that,…

Bill Mohr was born in Norfolk, VA, and grew up there and in Imperial Beach. After moving to Los Angeles and publishing books under the imprint of Momentum Press, he got a Ph.D. in literature from University of California, San Diego, and has taught at California State University, Long Beach, since 2006. His collections of poetry include a bilingual edition, Pruebas Ocultas (Bonobos Editores, Mexico, 2015). His account of West Coast poetry, Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948–1992, was published in 2011 by the University of Iowa Press. He has also edited or co-edited three anthologies of Los Angeles or West Coast poets.

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