Saturday, November 24, 2018

Santa Monica

I hardly notice anything these days.
Her smooth, tan thighs
The golden fuzz on her forearms
The setting sun that gilds her. Imbedded
in the muck, the skeleton
of a pelican, its pouch tanned
to black leather, feathers matted
between the bones.
Shell of a crab still caught in its bill
I hardly notice anything these days

At the Korean War Veterans Cemetery

That morning I stopped and stood 
on the bridge that spanned the freeway
and watched a flock of pigeons reel and swerve,
pulsing like a heart before sweeping the sky one last time
and shattering against the ledges of the building
I'd just stepped out of.

I'd talked to my mother the day before.
She said my grandmother went missing
They thought she’d wandered off
They didn’t realize she had never left her room,
was in bed the entire time
having shrunken away to almost nothing
her breath so gentle it didn't lift the comforter

Your cat had also diminished over the past few weeks.
Even without claws, she used to occasionally bring
a sparrow into the house. Lay it at your feet.
Now, she could barely clean her fur. Now
she could barely eat.

That afternoon
They shot rifles into the air with little pops
and a trumpeter played taps
while our friend's family wept
and two stoic men in uniform
folded the flag into as small a triangle
as they could manage

And the flock reformed
To ricochet back and forth over the highway
Expanding and contracting
I felt like I could barely breathe,
my breath came out in clouds

Hours later
you drove into the night
The bundle of fur and bones
weighed almost nothing in your lap
The streetlights flashed, the wet tires whispered
as you stroked her ears and murmured
Almost there

Black Friday

Yellow leaves
plastered to the hood
of a blue car

Rearview mirror
held on by duct tape

The sleeper in the back seat stirs

Morning fog

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Water Babies

The last hateful thing I'll ever say
slips out right after the last hateful thing
I meant to say. I pin it to the table,
slice it lengthwise, flip it inside out
and wear it as a stole, bloody side out.
I open my mouth
but whatever's still in there
remains inside, wary, waiting.


Moon a sharp red sliver over the city
as the forest burns. I cut off my feet
and reattach them. A speck of ash
floats past my nose. I go cross-eyed
trying to focus on it. That last hateful thing
still waits for its turn.


The children of the burning forest,
the children of the dusty creek beds
give birth to children who open their mouths
to release great frothy battalions of bubbles
Covering the shore, covering the fields
The heat makes them burst. The night is filled
with their wet explosions


If I pressed my palm against your breast
too hard, if I made a ripple
that would not dissipate, I'm sorry.
I was a child of the fire and you
were born underwater. If we clasped hands,
would I be doused, or would you sizzle
into nonexistence?


Before I can ask the question,
the answer leaps from your throat
and knots itself around your neck.
You dangle there, swaying at the end
of the last hopeful thing you'll ever say,
the last hint you gave me. I file it away
with all the other hints, all the other hopes,
stand at the edge of the forest,
watching the bubbles gather into a cloud so heavy
the earth collapses beneath it.