Edited by Kate Garrett
All poems copyright © 2019 individual authors
Selection/issue copyright © 2019 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry
Cover image is detail from ‘Medusa’ by Irina Iriser via Unsplash and used under
the public domain license.
This Month’s Rogue Poems ● July 2019
Directions // Sharon Phillips 7
Cousin Dorothy // Peter Burrows 8
The Omen Days // Kitty Coles 9
ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean // alyssa hanna 10
Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men) // Crystal Anderson 11
a poem from POND // John L. Stanizzi 12
Foxes in Fog // Chris Hemingway 13
Enfant Terrible // Sue Kindon 14
Lilith // Kathleen Strafford 16
american heathen // Jenna Velez 18
The Flesh of Vows // Maureen Daniels 19
Shiver // Samuel Guest 20
Arguing about songs // Charlie Hill 21
St Pancras // John Son 22
Communion // Beth Bayley 23
Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind) // Visar 24
Kě'ài // Bethany W Pope 25
Bud Says // Luke Kuzmish 26
Redondo Beach Mudita // Gerard Sarnat 28
Dragon’s Tail // Chris Hardy 30
Voyage Out Sonnet 50 // Erik Fuhrer 32
Yellow beak // Christopher Hopkins 33
The Botany of Insomnia // John Raffetto 34
Stop, Look, Listen // Andrew Shields 35
one in the eye for bio diversity // Bo Meson 36
Panopticon // Brian Comber 37
Harvest // Martin Zarrop 38
Captives // Kristin Garth 39
And Thus I Run Out Of Myself // Maiya Dambawinna 40
Back then you were a globe // David Bankson 41
This is No Nursery Rhyme // Jeffrey Zable 42
Dumpty // Rickey Rivers Jr 43
The Pixelated Man // Anthony Watts 44
The Intermediate // Donna Dallas 45
Aftermath // Chuka Susan Chesney 46
Unfinished Portrait // Tobi Alfier 47
Today you're finding it hard to write
in your edgy restless mood; maybe
the cat thinks you should stop:
he paces around on the desktop
and smacks your hand with his paw
but you are wound too tight to give up
so you keep on making ragged notes
about the weeks of heatwave—the day
you dozed in the shade of the lilac,
the rumble of bees in the rambling rose
—but none of it feels urgent or true
until you write about a woman you saw
yesterday in the hospital: pink mohawk,
tall; how she stopped and dried her eyes
and asked the way to the cancer ward.
Inching back the curtains, Cousin Dorothy
notes the car outside the house opposite.
Rings to confirm. Timings. Things taken in.
All the details she likes to know – so same time
next week they tail him to the garden centre,
where once he took the now brooding passenger
who sends her in to trail them through the sliding doors.
Warm air ruffles the senses. Vague browsers push
her through: fragrant scents, Muzak, shelved goods. Which way
through crowded displays of needless desires?
Teased on by the lure of fresh coffee. The café
tables laid out like a board games tournament.
Old faces meet. Couples stare through long windows.
Daffodils. Spotted, eating his cake, she draws near,
hearing him moaning to one about the other.
He knows nothing about women. But, big house.
A car. Grown up kids far away. He’s a catch
of sorts. What she loses being difficult.
Back in the car, debriefed, deaf to the stirred
fury, she smells the candles on her fingers.
Weeks later, after the usual calls, he relents,
as he always does. But the other woman
stays. A weak hand played – she won’t be happy, still,
she’s someone else to drive her about. For now.
Cousin Dorothy, scented candle lit,
awaits her next mission, by the window.
The Omen Days
These mornings, owls call in the light;
bats fly by day. The pile of the velvet
between us grows thinner, thinner.
You have left me signs:
the way that heron flew
above the hazel tree as if it was broken
and the distant shots I heard
when I walked by the orchard
and a pheasant, black as oil, appeared from nowhere.
I lay out my cards and you rise
in each formation,
the page of cups, proffering a glass of nothing.
Smudging the doorways, the smoke ascends,
pale ropes; in the bowl
a nest of ashes the size of a fist.
I wash myself until the skin seems thin.
I will put down roots
and live like a hyacinth,
like a mystic, nourished
on nothing but air and water.
My blood will put out tiny flowers like stars.
ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean
more than anything, i want to be a multitude of stimuli,
energy flowing flora and turquoise and tidal,
rescuing the fear of sharks and jellyfish from
the forces we forgot. i received a thanks for
curating a museum
she told me i made her feel less alone.
urn-kept, her mother agrees, sends me flowers that i
really wonder if i deserve.
i want to shake senses
but who am i to start earthquakes?
i will never know if the seafloor can
recover from more eruptions, but the acrylic
in my blood
yearns, tells me i must help her heal, attempt to soothe
every woman’s old wounds. if my words, my paintings
are bandages, can i keep the earth
from bleeding out?
Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men)
Your fantastic house plants succeed,
form a least demanding ecosystem
against your solo back; expectation
(like sloughing skin
from apple meat)
casts a wide orbit around traditional time
sinks. You escape the pull of gravity by scaling
honeysuckle on urban trees that struggle with their workloads
(exhaust sags their frames like afterglow salarymen);
respiration without surgical mask protection.
You like the gentle demarcation of that sterile cloth
stretched between yourself and konkatsu (exploration of pure
flowers; the heaven, the earth, the human),
kampai!, ferris wheel, procession (pictorial
occasions displayed in an alcove). You like the
in (eating cellulose) reframing disappointment
with indifferent stems so there is no koibito
aggression and that is fine
is not a provocative word.
Reclaimed carbon dioxide
(the sun, the water,
the photosynthesis, the cascade mist
droplets on leaves and nomikai beer)
will ask you for nothing more.
John L. Stanizzi
a poem from POND
Pappy grass, browned and mushy, but an inch down the hard freeze has
overnighted and is still rock-hard. Yesterday’s torrential downpour
normalized the southwest end of the pond – clear water and a view
distinct enough of the bottom that I can see the sand, a reminder of summer.
Foxes in Fog
At first she thought they were dogs
brushing his heels,
domestic shapes in the thickening fog.
But then five, seven, eleven,
Crossing the car park,
He gathers scraps from the folds of his coat.
Conjures swirls from these foxes.
that could turn to snow.
He will not tame them.
He doesn't want to.
He wants to be a ringmaster.
For this night only.
He doesn't see her.
He thinks he’s alone.
A surrogate city
gave birth in the early hours
after the shortest of labours
to a healthy, full-term woman
who wanted to suckle
the Sacré Coeur.
The child-woman's fontanelle
throbbed like the light show
of a maternal Eiffel Tower,
post-partum arteries pulsed
with the can-can of The Seine
past Notre Dame.
Mother and daughter dancing it all,
the bouquiniste stalls on the quays,
the high-heel click of the Métro,
jewels in arch windows
of golden hotels,
colliding with whores
in doorways or draped over cars;
the drug of exhaust fumes,
cocktail of Gîtanes and garlic,
posters for sex shows with fishnets,
rue des Deux-Boules.
The daughter grew weary of Paris,
taking trains further out
every stifling weekend,
estranged in the forests of Senlis,
Rambouillet, the deep breath
sleeping pill journeys
on long-distance lines
to the Morvan, or Chartres
with its half-timbered love-nests,
the murmur of pigeons,
the dapple of flesh.
She wanted an ocean,
the Brittany coastline,
salt for her lipstick,
dulse for her hair:
and nods at the sea.
Adam’s first wife
She bathes in waves of seminal fluid
flies on the moon’s last breath through windows strange
drains men in their beds
bites off their head
stretches their drongo-skin
like headless dancing chickens
She yearns to straddle Adam like a stag
gallop fast to brag dig her spurs in
teach his hot tongue
to flick like a feral cat.
Adam sows wild oats elects to plough his fierce erection
into the cunny of mares, many (he finds) don’t have opinions
just an occasional toss of mane or whinny
is all Adam needs.
Lilith hates when horse hairs stick to his knees.
With argument’s last straw
Lilith is banished doomed to fuck Eden’s dark angels
howls giving birth
to changeling owls & hyenas
dons wings grows talons
to cling to bed posts
soars the night’s sky seeking bleary-eyed
her blue nipple into tender lips
cackles as they choke.
slips between the sheets
of her Ex fingers his rib-caged wife
to know the other woman
taste the difference
Lilith grows a tree
sleeps in its hollow
with mopokes and poppied hemlock
Its roots are serpents
Her arms and bony fingers reach up splintering
ruby amulets glisten like fruit.
Through the centuries:
Lilith whispers to Circe
Who whispers to Medea
Who whispers to Morgan Le Fay
to all bearded hags and to Hecate
who slither like snakes
to all Malkin women
(From the author’s collection Wilderness of Skin, published by Yaffle Press, July 2019)
With ivory fangs
Melts the metal down
From gemstone Jesus
Builds her altars
For the humanity she lost
To God-fearing men
She loves her seafaring gods
Curses the soot off her cheek
From the fire where she burned alive
With gold jewelry
A priestess to the pyre
To the ember and amber
Prisoner moth in resin flames
Cuts out a blue eye
From folkish faces
With a riddled tongue
Casting runes with the
Ruins of a man’s body
That claimed her as a
Blood, white, and blue on the drinking horn
The Flesh of Vows
In our bed
we are cast again into gridlock,
bitter soot, my body,
You call this
back and forth
to the half-life of release.
against my thighs,
our palms fuse
in the hot-light.
Think how many times
I could have killed you.
The pulp of your body
lodged in me:
Spine. Testicles. Toes.
The married flesh
of our vows,
a dead thing.
There is no stitch for this wound,
no song to sing ourselves serene.
she shivers in a bed of rose petals as my
hand glides across her collarbone
tears run down my cheeks in little
rivulets that whisper
where did you come from
Arguing about songs
And sometimes we sit
in the kitchen
over which songs
of our conjoined divide.
Then we laugh,
at the casual accord
that once greeted suggestions
of any tune really,
to help pass the time
between going to bed,
making love on the sofa,
having sex on the table
If I ever get married it’ll be here, gazing into
my husband’s eyes alongside 2 for 1 paperback
deals and cut-price egg mayo sandwiches.
My boutonniere will be a chicken wing.
It won’t match the acuity of rhubarb
or gooseberry, but people will love it for trying.
I’m back-benched, licking ciabatta dust off my
fingers. Last night you were on fire, but not
in the way that wins people Man Booker prizes -
rather, like the way people gawp at departure
boards, and drop their coins on the concourse
floor when fumbling for train tickets.
Pennies roll outwards in miniature flight paths of change.
I am scheduled to meet Mark at the shop selling
activewear for the modern impotent gentleman.
We have planned meticulously: from the greeting kiss to
our getting lost on the Tube, reuniting on the
Victoria line platform in an achingly sexy epiphany.
Weddings are much like delayed trains. Both require dancing
to an excessive degree, but rarely for good reason.
I will never marry Mark. He’ll run away to Nottinghamshire
like they all do in the end - my chew toy of a heart in one hand,
my beloved chicken wing in the other. What will become of
me then? The place settings left stale and untouched;
the elegiac concept of train termini stations, but never
the cold, hard reality of it all.
The Novena Catholic Church has been rebuilt and made grand enough to
accommodate nearly everyone’s Sunday morning, though at Christmas they
needed a tent outside and a video screen for overflow. We could see it from the
bar across the street, where they know us well (a phenomenon I’m ambivalent
about), as we had our communion of lager and thin, crispy pizza.
So Sunday’s crowded, but Wednesday is, too, and sometimes even the lunchtime
throngs head in for a Jesus fix. That’s when I usually see her, at the bottom of the
church steps, with a dowager’s hump under her floral blouse and the brightest
magenta lipstick on her wrinkled mouth. You aren’t allowed to beg in Singapore,
but you are allowed to sell packets of tissues, three for a dollar, and she holds
three yellow packets in her left hand. Sometimes there’s an uncle in a wheelchair
selling them too, one leg a stump that the crowds have to walk around; but it’s her
I go to with my coins, her lipstick a beacon and beckoning.
I blot my own lipstick with her tissues later, as I get ready to go to the bar, leaning
into the mirror to examine my own wrinkles, empty riverbeds, dry tributaries seen
Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind)
Streetlights ceased to work,
but mossed rainspout of the road
carried market trays and parasols,
Mannequins armless or nude before boutiques.
The balconies are decorated with clothes,
Schools of trees sway at passing jalopies,
Capricious lovers took photos at Samonda's gallery,
Relationships wore out and snapped.
Waysides crawled with old denizens,
Bridges were ceilings, clothes rented by bodies
changing. The street was an imposter,
its pygmy goats ruminating on Serendipity
leaves. Beer parlours swallowed your
Latitude kept us so long on the ground.
Bethany W Pope
My restaurant-buddy has a name I can't
pronounce. I've tried, of course, but she asked me
to stop. We mainly communicate through
Google Translate and gestures. My Chinese
is virtually nonexistent; her English
limited to 'Hello!’ but we persist.
After I make my selections, shovel
bok choy, raw horse flank, and dumplings into
my bowl and she loads it all into
the steel boiler, she sits down at my table
and teaches me numbers using mushrooms.
She touches each head as she counts them out.
I don't know anything about her life.
I don't know where she lives or what she does
for fun. I don't know how she lost her eye.
I know that she's in her early thirties.
I know that she likes K-Pop, coconut
milk, and pictures of puppies. I know that
she finds puppy pictures on the internet
and stores them on her phone because after
I’ve counted to ten to her satisfaction
she opens a folder and shows them to me.
She says the same thing about every picture:
Cute, cute, cute. ‘Kě'ài, kě'ài, kě'ài.’
that there’s a
between feeling hopeless
when he gave three years
of his life
to the department of corrections
“I was writing
a lot of letters:
send me books
or send me money
let me know
how the flowers are doing
while I’m away letters
let me know
if the sky is still
broad and open
someone like me letters”
Bud says hope
is like oxygen
“I’ll stay hopeful
I stop breathing”
Redondo Beach Mudita*
Let’s do a snappy happy poem
that maybe someone can understand.
A February Sunday. Lovers or friends.
Mothers and dads teach kids
to ride bicycles. Dogs chase Frisbees
and masters into the glass waves
along the curling of the shore. Old and not,
rich and poor, black and white,
a marriage party, some alone
come from all over Los Angeles
to bathe in the glory while most of the rest
of the US freezes.
Instead of running or walking
or fashioning sand castles, I brought
a beachchair, just sat.
The water and air talked to me about how they
weren’t getting any younger either.
A gaggle of nondescript birds
dart past a giant inert seagull.
In lieu of time’s conspiracy
each year since winter started,
what I must do with my remaining breath
when not writing becomes clear
as a bolt of cold crashes through my chest.
A lovely stooped over rotund couple
in gray sweaters makes its way.
Straining to absorb last heat from the sun,
delight as we all move on.
*Meaning sympathetic joy in Pāli and Sanskrit; English has no single word for Buddhism’s
third brahmavihārā, or divine attitude.
In October lay the hedge.
Keep hawthorn, hazel,
blackthorn, beech and ash.
Behead the oak.
Slice stems to a tendon
of sapwood with the hook.
Pack down the pleachers at a slant,
staked with poles, bound by whips.
Haul away everything cut out –
long twisted branches, brash,
axed trunks, young growth, dead wood,
and stack it in the field.
Fire will change it to
a hill of incandescent caves
from which a ring of flame
will spread across dry stubble.
You’re left with a barrier
dense and sharp, chest high,
a straight dark line
leaning up the slope,
and a circle of black earth
where nothing grows
until April rain wakes
thistle seeds blown in.
Soon cornflowers, hare bells,
orchids, vetch and grass return,
are mowed, raked out to dry,
baled in stacks and barns,
like gold sieved from the earth
for feed when fields are bare,
when waterfalls of stars
fall through the skylight,
and the hedge is sinew, ribcage,
spine of the sleeping serpent
round your bounds
that you laid there.
Voyage Out Sonnet 50
The moon broke straight over the earth. Birds whitened
the horizon, straight as threads of sunlight. Shoulders
hunched the morning into life. Lips anticipated explosions penetrating
through mourners. Voices shook hands down the passage.
Grief clenched death with raced down cheeks. The dead dreamt.
The mornings became fewer every day. Eyes took pains to suffer. Laughter
crumbles to a full stop. Spirits sting the room. Minutes, dropping
anchor, forgot what rain looks like. Play desired a gravel path. Insects
hum the heavy drop of silence. People light thunder
darker across the earth. Wind carried lightening
at the joints. Slackening light voiced electric
crowds of artificial light. The storm began to tell stories of needlework.
Moths thoraxed the room. Cheeks whipped lighting over a chair in final struggle.
The shock of rain could not speak. Eyes resumed knitting the open air.
*This poem is from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure
of Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by
chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. I highlighted language
over narrative and rarely re-used Woolf's subjects, instead often giving agency and voice to
animals and inanimate objects. For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the
exception of the rare addition of an "s" at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled
together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf's original language remains mostly
intact and unadulterated.
On the sands
we pass a carcass of
a sea bird,
dried and belly burst.
to see it this close.
The worked yellow flint of the beak,
its only recognisable form.
The bleached rub of exposed
now whiter than the
torus nest of feathers
that once was its chest
and the gather of weathered
the shrimp & fish
of its plastic suppers.
The down shivers
in the intimate winds,
ghostly twitch of the starving
a stomach full of death.
The Botany of Insomnia
Again I rewind the tape
Years spent in therapeutic
shadows of volcanic
against gnarled oak branches,
a slow drip
of desired rest
near streetlamp glow
lie in state
of green fossils
as the tape
sputters into a taut
as dawn approaches
Stop, Look, Listen
When you don’t look, the money’s no good.
When you don’t listen, the locks break.
When you don’t close the door, the ink runs out.
When you don’t write, the phone keeps ringing.
When you don’t call, the car won’t start.
When you walk, the radio plays.
When the day’s not yours, the present unwraps.
When you don’t explain, nothing happens.
When you’re not here, the candles never go out.
one in the eye for bio diversity
Three billion unfussy fat boys,
as at the dawn of days,
a 6 mile nucleus, yucatan bound -
burrows 25 miles
under undulating ground
600 mile speed air-howl,
as chloroplasty dies
a hypoglycemic death -
fixed point of a necessary reign
causing dinosaurs to drop
Cretaceous, a mass extinct,
with heavy metal band
a cosmic iridium bookmark -
the footprint-free paleogene
a planet sudden dark
Transitional therapod fossil
Darwin's Bulldog spots
small autochtonous relic -
with melanosome mange
cotton-candy fuzz ,,, psychedelic
2-stroke pneumatic stoking
survival entice us -
past this sick 6th
Graven heft of a stone tablet
Uncle Joe had a poster of Stalin and would put you right
if you didn’t toe the party line,
he denounced Khrushchev
and planned purges of his own
when he would turn up the white noise
and break a few skulls
he told us of his day at the beach, how he saw
the toddler running towards the tethered donkeys
and then, to follow, in this order;
the desperate mother,
the bank holiday crowd disturbed by the fuss,
sitting up and shielding their eyes,
the police calming down and fanning out,
the shouting grandfather,
and much later
the circling helicopter.
Uncle Joe said he could have stepped in,
stopped the child and helped the law
but he’d been in trouble for that kind of thing before.
We didn’t holiday with Uncle Joe anymore.
Last time I saw him he was at the windblown station
shaking out a lifeboat tin,
not turning to watch us go.
My dad said he should go back to Russia,
where turning a blind eye and seeing all
would keep your apartment, a welcome at the factory gate
and where the beach could be cleared
with just a word from the State.
Tractors dig deep in Passchendaele.
Above, the morning mist,
below in mud, corroded steel,
a crop that knows no armistice.
In furrowed fields, disposal teams
collect the toxic bric-a-brac:
grenades and fuses, Flying Pigs,
white phosphorus and mustard gas.
Above, no regiments,
below, in rough and ready rows,
shells primed to suffocate and maim,
nudged nose to rusted nose
millions that failed to detonate,
foundering in quagmire like the men
who perished long before them,
known and unknown warriors
whose names are carved in stone
or traced through DNA a century on
in earth and scraps of cloth,
fragments of bone demanding
recognition from their heirs,
remembrance from those who pray
as the old world turns under the plough
and will not die away.
Unlike you, Colossus was born free, months
old taken, forest to captivity,
New Hampshire caged, first, watched TV. Now grunts
at you, in Florida, field trip, fifteen,
schoolgirl, flared dress, against impact resistant glass —
six hundred pounds, his punch — retreat fast. Hear
docent remit biography — wild grass,
good genes, Gulf Breeze to breed. “Confusion, fear.
Forgotten gorilla ways.” Teen tears, beast bounds
then squints sideways, sovereign staring into
you; chest heaving in his concrete compound
reminds cowering schoolgirl captive who
was born to your abusive family:
freedom is strength, even the memory.
And Thus I Run Out Of Myself
An Ode to Pablo Neruda
Twenty-six and over your head, you were
Lost in the complexions of strangers, you
Found yourself putting angels to rest, just to
Ease the hunger pangs of loneliness. Ask
Me if I ever made you less than worthy. Ask me
If you want to know why, how, what and where
I hid all my sweet nothings addressed to you. I’ve
Labelled them, dated them, buried them. It has been
A long time coming. Caught in the fences, I –
I lose track of time. My hands would
Forget how yours felt in an instant. I have
Spent twenty-six years inside my stomach, only to
Bubble to the top of my oesophagus and fall. Tell
Me I never looked beautiful. Tell me how
Every woman before me has reduced me to dirt,
How the memory of them surely mottles
Me – tell me I’m nothing more than rocks;
Prometheus, tell me I chained you – forgetting how,
With a rushing of blood beneath his wings, the
Eagle used me. Becoming part river,
Louder than thunder, I am only towards you running.
Back then you were a globe
held apart by ocean arms,
melted glaciers refrozen,
vodka & ice castles,
your exterior severe
as the dusk's late light, draining
every window in the house with day-
killing darkness; I
stitched together the broken bits of myself
& learned to ignore loose threads
& pricked thumbs.
I learned of the difference
between being silver & moon
glimmering on the top of a stray puddle.
Between hearts & the seas
without end I mistook them for.
Surrendering & being seen
to have surrendered. A globe
& a land without smooth slopes.
Between such an example of weakness
& leaving before it could be proven.
This is No Nursery Rhyme
The capsule from the burning bottle turned everything dark.
And nothing was ever the same.
Baa Baa Black Sheep said he would bite me
with his iron teeth,
and the children once known as Jack and Jill
were now Smack and Vill;
Vill standing for villainous.
“We’re gonna take all your money!”
she hissed in my ear.
“Buy more guns, drugs, and take lavish vacations.
Live like royalty for the rest of your days!”
So with nothing left to lose
I downed another capsule,
which put me to sleep for a long, long time.
And when I awakened I looked into the eyes
of Baa Baa Black Sheep,
who’d made a hole in my chest,
and one in the back of my head. . .
Rickey Rivers Jr
Look into the mirror and at the egg man holding it.
The irony is lost on him.
His pieces crackling like your mental state,
your eyes red, long tired.
What say you to this reality?
When you wake with headaches,
and painful joints.
Do you carry on?
Or do you succumb?
These questions boggle unbroken people too.
The glass cracks
and so goes your mushy brain.
Don't worry, you're sane.
Broken people broke in people.
This has always been the case.
The Pixelated Man
My resolution wavers. There are days
when I’m almost high definition, almost
know who I am.
But mostly I’m this unresolved
a ghost made of lego.
When they turn off the power
I sleep, dream of a woman
perfect in every pixel.
Help me, help me.
I can’t get out.
I’m constantly torn
between here and there,
blonde or brunette, walk
I look at the old photos
of the old me, the ugly me.
I look in the mirror and want
to be a new me, not an older me.
Maybe I will go on a diet.
I’m saving my money,
I’m saving my money!!
I’m in the middle of haircuts
I refuse to go backwards.
Tomorrow is already sitting
on my lap like a stack
of unopened mail and
I’m not even finished with
my To Do list.
Who am I, who am I?
I’m in limbo hanging
like a coconut.
Crack me open and at least
pour me over ice.
Chuka Susan Chesney
There was a zoo of dead animals in my throat after you died
A coat closet filmed in Naugahyde
eyes watched me crouch
they knew what had transpired
the rusty underpinnings of deep blood chords
and you on the floor like washed-up insides
a manatee asleep and barely alive
they took you away and tried to make you breathe
but you couldn’t be revived and you turned into leaves
that tempted the doctor as he exhumed your head
to study the madness that waded into death
She’s stumbled over love’s disputed borderlands in many weathers. The burnt air
of August finds her just as compass-in-hand wandering as the itinerant fall wind—
cloud shadows a checkerboard of pattern on low hills, tops coated with sugarsnow,
the air waiting, workmen and vagrants waiting, tinge of clay and dried mud
up against curbs, reminder of rains that came, ground-thirst slugging down water
like she used to shoot tequila. Now it’s a calmly sipped shot of anything gold, in
anywhere quiet, mirrors against the back bar reflect her carefully painted face, hair
brushed a thousand strokes, age impossible to guess, and it’s another late
afternoon in the rugged splendor of somewhere-ville. Windmills stand tall and
graceful, lining the valley. Sound of the Union Pacific on its way, a distant lullaby,
reminder of a long-ago trip from Texas to California, bunk beds to sleep on, birds
and brush waving goodbye through the window as it rushes and rushes, stopping
in towns along the way that she doesn’t remember. Time—like footsteps
dispatched in an alley, the downgoing sun. Shale tones of sky ease around
memory no one but she wants to revisit. The early fade of day.
Thank you for reading!