Losing the Will

By Ruben Rodriguez

(Inspired by/in imitation of “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara)

It is 1:00 in Los Angeles at UCLA
a week after classes start with all
the bustling t-shirt adorned fatigued
students wandering about and I go to grab
a coffee because I don’t know that I’ll make it ‘til 5:00

I flank the long way around to avoid the mass of
bodies handing out flyers along BRUIN WALK but
a JESUS flyer lands in my hand nonetheless
and I slam into a bicycle trying to avoid
a bit of proselytization

      so I cross along the grass
to shortcut my way through past Mike and Kim (whose
names they declare to one another in a mix of expletives)
and I bet they don’t care that they’ve lost the point of
their argument, now they’re just insulting, and I
check my RAZR MAXX HD to note the time
and read a headline about EBOLA and the death of
a dog, poor dog, ‘til I practically trip over myself
through a failure in noting my periphery

and for Britania I stop to check if there’s a performance
this weekend at ROYCE HALL or in POWELL
but it’s all choir or yarn-spinning, a bit over our
attentive span, and so past DICKSON COURT I
venture only to discover I’m missing the folder for ENG 132

and I’ve had enough by now of this upward
elevation and the sun’s fierceness upon my face
and I visualize taking the long walk back to my
apartment and back to campus and all of us would
rather ride a damn SEGWAY anyway


RubenRuben Rodriguez is currently a student at UCLA majoring in English.  Both of his parents are writers, and so most of his life has been surrounded by stacks of books on bookshelves and intense dinner table conversations, all for the love of literature. He writes various bits of prose and poetry in his spare time, is currently on staff at Westwind  Literary Arts Journal, and plans to grow as a writer/editor for years to come.

“Losing The Will” was written for the class “Los Angeles Poetry: Past, Present, and Future”. We had just finished reading Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham and the Frank O’Hara poem “The Day Lady Died”, and the teacher wanted us to contribute to the notion of taking in a city through imitation. Rather than employ one of the four ecologies set down by Reyner Banham, I chose to view UCLA as its own ecology, writing about the people and distractions therein. There’s nothing like climbing to the top of Bruin Walk only to realize you need to do it all over again.