About the Poems
by Catherine Daly
I wanted the "Cocytus" poem to be in No Tell Motel because the poem includes hot sheet motels near Century Boulevard so I am very satisfied satisfied with it now. In fact, my favorite hot sheet motel is the abandoned half-tudor Cockatoo Inn on the corner of Imperial Highway and Crenshaw. Whereas it still has its signage in place, the giant Cockatoo no longer revolves.
The poem is from a series I've been slowly writing over the past four or so years. A poem which actually belongs to it ("American Beauty: Night") is in my new book, Locket. The larger manuscript, called Dystopia, uses the names of Hesiod's denizens of Hades as poem titles. In particular, many of the poems are named from offspring of Chaos and Night. There are five sections of the book: freeways / traffic, entertainment industry / slang, rivers (oil and water politics), tourism / geography, and movies / criticism. The paratext for the book is huge. For example, many of the poems also quote lines from poems written in or having to do with LA - the full poems would serve as a very broad-minded anthology of LA poetry. It is fabulous to add to that here.
"Cocytus" is in the section with a poem for each of Hades' rivers. The unburied wander the banks of the Cocytus for a century. The noir-esque poems are from a series called "Phonoi," or murder, in the movie / criticism section, which I think of as containing the "local lore" and "native wit and wisdom" of Los Angeles.
I think part of the fun of these poems is picking out the quotes, allusions, and meanings.