Poetry Break by Carol Es


Photo of Carol’s art via her website

By Carol Es

Laurel Canyon

Years and drugs,

men, women, cults,

bands and cigarettes,



shitty jobs,


runaway dogs.

And I’ve lived in nearly every LA neighborhood.

Any place away from my family was good for me.

But one of the better places I lived

was in the foothills of Laurel Canyon.

Privacy at its finest.


Every North American bird

came to live outside my window,

just for me it seemed.

Or for the views, for the trees,

or the canyon roads.


I had no air-conditioning inside that place,

and I was on the second floor.

Burning-hot, hardwood floors

would singe the bottoms of my bare feet

in mid-September heat waves.

And the dramatic problems of my downstairs neighbors

echoed through the paper-thin ceilings;

that, and his blaring Tony Robbins tapes.


Before that moron was a couple with an evil child.

His father had a sleep disorder.

And after that were some porn stars from Sweden.

After that was a crack addict,

an alcoholic fan of one of the bands I was in,

the drummer from Devo,

and a couple in the Self Realization Fellowship.


I settled there for a nice, long, 7-year stint

and watched odd people come and go

while I

finally gained stability

in that hot apartment

where change took place and the birds came to visit.


Among various boys,

I freely decorated.

I stuck colored toothpicks and clay

in weird arrangements around my backdoor window

and learned to garden in potted plants.

I stayed up on the breezy porch until dawn

without the use of any cocaine.

And it took quite a while,

but I finally figure out

that I had conquered something.




I moved like cattle,
settled like seasons
then stricken as a gag.


Houses I lived and died many;

places I brought blankets,

pictures of moving lips with no sound
I could not decide to fear.
Houses built but never for me,
broken in for a real family.
Homes where broken dishes lay,
murdered paintings admired
left in her past she killed

only to ride to another set as my mother pulled,

while I
don’t quite remember the feelings.
large and plush,
winnings adored

and slightly relished.

Intermittent embraces
between dramatic scenes –

recreated someday.


Houses I dream,
places I see
play like a music box
to comfort and horrify,

and my hope
will evaporate as I

move along,
and move along
to take in another panoramic view

of manicured green lawns
I pretend to ignore.
Shedding my hand from hers,

And avoiding her sound from my tongue,

I continue to love
and pardon myself, when I can.


I don’t remember much,

just avoiding his phone calls,

isolating in my un-kept apartment,

and Oprah.


Eventually, he was at my door yelling,

“I know you’re in there!”

He could see the light of the TV –

through my beautiful curtains.

I was a terrific interior decorator.


I hid under my computer desk.

Quiet, hardly breathing,

I waited for him to shove off

when it suddenly occurred to me,

what the hell kind of life is this?


Still, it took me many years to realize

who the real creep was.


A Longer Life

In the brittle cold, I’m waking up

grateful I have on my pajamas.

It’s snappy, and I’m feeling a lot like packaged meat on two legs.

But I head outside.


I want to bring the covers from the bed with me,

but I don’t.

I leave them on the bed for my boyfriend.

I’m gracious like that.


I slip on my boots before

I crunch footsteps into the sand

and stand out of the shade directly in the sun

and light up a cigarette, and listen.


It’s so quiet here, it’s almost unsettling,

but there’s plenty of birds,

and you can still hear the crickets

vibrating in the mesquite.


I turn my face to the sun and see

little prisms on my eyelashes.

I think about that cat on the Internet asking

what it all means.


Not caring much for the answer,

I walk forward.

I can see the jagged edges of mountain tops –

the formations of the boulders that stay put without glue.

It’s a little bit orange in the morning here,

though you can’t see it anywhere in particular.

For me, this inspires me to stretch my body,

something I don’t normally do.


Maybe I crave a longer life here

in the desert sun.


I put out my cigarette and walk down the path

that leads to a fenced-in roundabout.

Tall green trees grow in its center.


Never do I coil up the garden hose

because I know I’m just going to uncoil it again.

So I leave it there

spread out all over the ground.


I turn it on and spray the trees.

They drink like thirsty dogs.

I see rainbows in the water

and my boyfriend in the distance.


He is wrapped in the covers from the bed,

dragging the ends through the sand.

He stops to smile and waves at me,

which I know means, “I love you.”


And I think to myself, I do crave a longer life

here in the desert sun.




Carol Es is a self-taught visual artist, writer, and musician who was born and raised in Los Angeles. Known for creating narrative paintings and Artists’ books, she has used past experience as the fuel for her subject matter, transforming a broken history into a positive and spiritual resolve. Candid experiences are laid bare and forged directly into her paintings, video installations, writings, and handmade books.


Carol’s works are featured in numerous private and public collections, including the Getty Research Library, Brooklyn Museum, UCLA Library Special Collections, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She has exhibited at the Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, and Zimmer Children’s Museum. She is also a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, awarded a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship in 2010, and the Wynn Newhouse Award in 2015. She was recently nominated for a 2017 Fellows of Contemporary Art Award.


As for publications, Carol has been published by small presses such as Bottle of Smoke Press, NY; Pig Ear Press in the UK, Chance Press, Berkeley, CA, MWE Press, NC, and Islands Fold in British Columbia. She has also written feature articles for Coagula Art Journal, Whitehot Magazine, Art Thought Journal, Art Collector Magazine and the Huffington Post. She is currently finishing up a memoir about growing up on the streets of Los Angeles entitled, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley.


Carol Es is represented by Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and her Artists’ books can be purchased through Vamp & Tramp, Birmingham, AL.

Carol’s Blog/website: http://esart.com/blog/

Full CV available upon request.


Brooklyn Art Library, Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Centre Pompidou, Bibliotheque Kandinsky, Paris, France
Cowles Memorial Library, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

J. Paul Getty Trust, Research Institute Library, Los Angeles, CA

The Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collection, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC

Otis College of Art & Design Library, Artists’ Books Collection, Los Angeles, CA

UC Irvine Library Special Collections, Irvine, CA

UCLA Library, Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA


    • Hi John, I really appreciate your comment. Thank you. I too love the diversity of “Two Drops.” I’ve been counting on it to stretch me out of my usual zone, yet it’s felt comfortable in the zone(s) it’s been taking me. I get a lot out of reading so many points of views.

  1. Hi, Carol. Thank you for this contribution to Two Drops of Ink. Your struggles have been captured in words that form pictures in my mind, and isn’t that the purpose? Good job, Carol. And your artwork, both the one picture and those on your site, spoke to me as well. Again, thank you.

    • Thank you Marilyn. Your encouragement means a lot to me. It’s so nice to hear that my words can form visuals in your mind. That’s exactly what I’m going for, as it is how I think while I am writing. It’s probably because I am a visual artist first and foremost. I think that’s why anyway. So, you’ve made me feel that I must have written something remotely successful then. 🙂 Thanks again!

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