Desire in L.A. confronts limitless longing in a city that is itself without limits. In these poems, the object of desire is decidedly missing, whether that object be love or beauty or the past.
Shifting even within a single poem, and certainly from section to section, the objects of desire in Martha Ronk's poetry become as elusive as the unnamed Marilyn Monroe--"that image of another's skirts"--of the title poem, or the moment captured in "A photograph as good as a picture":
"He leans forward with such / fervor, yet isn't young and something / decidedly is happening, even / to the beefy fellow in his white / short-sleeved shirt. A photograph-- / oh, perhaps not the same as a / Manet, but it is Auden, and / for whatever reason he stares at / the square flesh neckline / of her dress. He is forward / in his chair, rumpled about / the collar and everyone is wearing / black and white. It is the formal / occasion of how much he cares / to be there, Venice, 1951 / and how much I care to see him / no matter what for, longing / like that."
Moving from thwarted examples of family and place to language and its corruptions, from classical Japanese love poems to failed love in the southwestern desert, from emotionality to artifice, the book ends with a series focused on the slipperiness of all categories.