A Poetic Look at WeHo by Steven Reigns, the New ‘City Poet’

Steven Reigns, weho city poet
Steven Reigns (Photo by Jenny Walters)

Steven Reigns was officially declared West Hollywood’s first “city poet” at the City Council meeting last night. Reigns, who has lived in West Hollywood for eight years, will hold the position for two years, receiving a city stipend of $1,500 a year. The city poet is required lead a poetry writing workshop and organize a poetry reading or other literary event. The city poet also will be expected to write and publish an original poem celebrating West Hollywood and read a poem at the annual installation of the city’s mayor. Below is the poem Reigns wrote for the installation of Mayor John D’Amico, which he read at the Council meeting last night.

Morning, West Hollywood

The sun rises at 6:16 a.m.
moves morning along LaBrea Blvd
overtaking last night’s marquee lights at the Gateway,

past the Formosa Café where the ghosts
of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford still dine.

Day moves west to where Russian Jews settled
en masse to escape Nazism and Fascism,
when Hollywood didn’t offer complete freedom.

Light arcs over bakeries and grocers
selling babka, bagels, baba ghanoush.
Signs reveal another alphabet,
a melting pot of generations and cultures.

Then sunrise finds The Sunset Strip,
the reverberation still sounding
from rock concerts and nightclubs,
glimmers off the new blue pole billboard.

At Plummer Park, old men will play chess
to pass the day. Residents recall the beginning
of the plague before AIDS Project Los Angeles and Being Alive
stepped in to offer healing and hope.

At Westbourne Drive, a rainbow flag catches
the morning breeze, flaps alongside
symbols for our city and state.

At San Vicente, brightly colored crosswalks
remind with every step that diversity matters,
isn’t just tolerated but is honored.

The sun warms the library, the Design Centers,
the Recovery Center, the Melrose galleries, and the Troubadour
where Joni, Janis and James all played.
Sun moves past Doheny toward the Pacific.

Everyday we wake up, a brilliant and creative people
in a beautiful city, our past and present
intersecting, illuminated, full of promise
and possibility.