In Which Dennis Hopper Photographs His Burning Home

RainrainSanta Ana season. Some construction crew up in Sherman Oaks.
RainrainrainrainWind kicking dust into nothing; one spent Lucky seething
Rainrainrainrainon a junk heap: It’s Toasted. Spark, then flare, then the rug

of smoke curls south. Gallery show tonight and his prints have gone to cinder.
RainrainHe stands in the street barefoot, fumbles with a gloss-black roll of film
Rainrainrainrainas the neighborhood empties. A woman rides shotgun,
Rainrainrainrainthe acid swirls of a Pucci scarf clutched to her face.

The vice president, wielding garden hose & suitcase, admits defeat;
Rainraina lesser-known actor loads his hunting dog in the bed of a pickup.
RainrainrainrainThat evening, the artist drags a folding chair to the edge
Rainrainrainrainof the tennis court, watches the moon ascend as empty beer cans

multiply at his feet. He drinks not to his ruined house, or to the lives
Rainrainof pocketbook dogs and parakeets surely lost, but to the photographs
Rainrainrainrainnever to be captured again: Acapulco Gold, two sticky grams,
Rainrainrainrainin a little glass coffin. His wife, shirtsleeves rolled, considering

mackerel & anchovies under grocery-aisle fluorescence. A Mobil
Rainrainsign cutting the night like religion, gasoline twenty-two cents
Rainrainrainraina gallon. He remembers a margarita sweating in blue-dipped
RainrainrainrainMexican glass. Next to it, a crystal ashtray crowded, smoldering.

Bel Air, 11/6/1961

Claire Christoff recently completed her MFA at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared in Passages NorthThe Los Angeles ReviewStudies in Popular Culture, and elsewhere.