I wrote this poem in summer 2014, while looking forward to the trip to Los Angeles I had scheduled for later that summer. My feelings about Los Angeles are complicated, but the four years I spent in college there have given me a sense of connection to the place. Los Angeles Union Station, the subject of this poem, is a beautiful building with a problematic history. I hope to eventually write a more detailed explanation of the background of this poem for those of you not familiar with it.
July 2014, in Cambridge, Massachusetts
They call this the Last of the Great Rail Stations;
and it is great.
The waiting room a dark, airy cavern;
a cool respite from the burning desert sun.
Soft armchairs from another era rest our tired feet;
courtyard gardens a respite for freeway-weary eyes.
Still, it shares in the sins of this city:
it was built, after all, to destroy Chinatown.
Chosen in place of a network of els,
it sealed our choice of rubber over steel.
Now moats of asphalt and exhaust chain it in place;
an island apart from the city it serves,
a reminder of the city this could have been.