Two Nightmares in My Car on Rosewood

I.

A shadow figure outside the Ford’s locked door.
He jiggles the handle
hey can you drive me to Santa Clarita
I said no I have been drinking whiskey
which was a lie
he said let me in
I did not

II.

When I wake for a walk in the middle of the night,
clothes bunched on red benches under streetlights
like someone had been there
and disappeared

III.

I call my ex
I can’t stop thinking about you

shadows float from her eyes
into mine

cigarette smoke

bats

understand: we lived
in the cave of each other

IV.

under orange streetlights

blankets hang from headrests
to drape me from the world

 

(originally published in The Nottingham Review, Fall 2017)

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Automobile

compartmentalized space the whole world
one way windshield window window
window window mirror mirror mirror
rush of speed then tangled road
slow for nothing nothing slows for you

 

(originally published in Stonecoast Review, Fall 2017)

Rotor

If you drive a car whose
combustion confuses fuel

for air, the engine will quiver
along smooth concrete.

At certain speeds, a clanking
rotor is similar

to the natural cadence
of heartbeats in embrace:

amplitude becomes a deafening
in the stillness of night.

Let a rotating machine of mass
be mounted on a stiff spring

to fix support. The pieces
must move vertically in

a single degree of freedom
even if the rotor is unbalanced,

its hypnotic center missing
one valve’s intake,

forgetting the other’s exhaust.

 

(originally published in Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Summer 2017)

East Through California

I argue with the music in my car again
those rock’n’roll pots and pans clanging
in the soup kitchen of my imagination
the Steel Reserve of my rumba rumblin’
stomach unfilled from Maruchan ramen

really I’m running from anything but home:
in the apartment of my car the desert’s
a sandstorm of faulty A/C and mountains
obscuring the view of my future and
there’s nowhere else to go but here

 

(originally published in Outcast Poetry, Spring 2017)

Fog

We inhaled fog on the Golden Gate
along with traffic exhaust.
Foghorns cried names
we did not recognize.
Car horns, names we gave ourselves.
From this high, you said, there is no good
way to fall. We scrunched our fingers
to encapsulate the small
fragility fog brings– how, in a moment,
everything can change / fog
of ghosts rippling waves from long-
passed boats / fog of sitting in silence,
windows down / fog of steel cable’s
fading red / fog of missing
what we lost while sun cuts a way

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

Broke in L.A.

The only deals I actually found in Vons
were in clearance. Beers half-off per bottle.
They’ll be ready in a box in my too-orange,
too-granite Public Storage space when I am.

Bearded teens saunter by in lumberjack caps.
I will wait for more significant events in my life
to drink the harp whose tones keep me moving.

Think about teeth– among the homeless drifters
I probably consume the most peanut M&M’S,
filling my days with processed rainbows and crunch.
How do you stop? I was at the 7th Street Metro, one a.m.,
no one there and the halls echoed in perpetuity.

Purple line for purple folk. I’m purple
from dehydration. Mixture of gravel and headspace.
Play me some ukulele. The strings react to the roar
of coming trains, twenty minutes late.

This is what I hear: my name is Grace.
I want to direct, and these are my roommates.
I realize even in the city’s darkest depths,
no one is alone, even after the dream fades.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)

Observations from the Westside Pavilion Bridge

I.

stationary at the couch by the window over the street the cars move unseen beneath me in lines in some complex order that means they don’t crash into each other    the sound of engines is replaced with repetitive 4/4 pop music snare singer pleading for her lover to return but in Los Angeles   who do you return to

II.

locks click from storefront doors a Chinese family appears from behind the off-white pillar the mother in loose pink flowy shirt and dress takes a photo in front of the window her daughter in a white-and-red striped shirt her husband in a blue-and-pink striped shirt so much pink so many binding stripes and the mother captures that lone moment  the sky a tender backdrop

III.

a grandma walks a black stroller and makes a soft kind of train noise shh guh shh guh in syncopated beats as she travels in circles    the rolling sound of the stroller-like luggage in an airport    constant whir    her mouth a muted hi-hat to some imaginary beat on her third pass-by   the baby in pink stirs and she stops her mouth’s percussion and tends to the baby who is quiet but lifts her arm in the air   silhouette to the window of the world    cookies and cream   loose leggings

IV.

a man in his fifties eats macha ice cream alone near Dillard’s   walks in front of a blonde man in a cowboy hat water bottle in hand tying his shoelaces      the ice cream man on the other side of the window underneath the Westside Center sign stares at his reflection     he moves from the window bits of cone now lodged in his graying mustache

V.

the green palms reflected on the speckled cream floor    ripples in a pond blow so gently     outside a man with twenty hands and countless fingers     dances and puppeteers

VI.

two Mexican women with glowing purses hanging on their right shoulder walk in near-unison   one just a half-step ahead until the fast one stops to fix her shoe before walking into Nordstrom glass door squealing open       at its most open it sounds like a bad brake on a car      the other keeps walking

VII.

older man in a reddish shirt has a chocolate cone at 11:45pm   stands on the wide black stripe on the floor in front of the imposing silver pillar that splits in the middle like a buttcrack     he stands    licking staring forward at TVs     that advertise movies now playing in the theaters of his daydreams

VIII.

half of the iPhone billboard outside would be indiscernible    half white space stubs of fingers touching green fabric in a lazy V the space below it a half-globe of nothing   the squeaking of shoes slowly silence the man in blue beneath as he does not even notice I watch as he tucks his manila folder under his left armpit

IX.

mountains are indiscernible from buildings in the distance     curved with specks of white that hint at strange windows or a deepening mist that seem to want to envelop the rest of us    and how do we know it won’t

X.

a faraway pedestrian timidly crosses the intersection illegally   she slows but proceeds   and from my vantage point she crosses to the smell of the soy in the pad see ew that steams in front of me

XI.

the light which hangs above these walls of shades of gray is latticed in spiderweb    I cannot tell if the gentle sway-shaking is imaginary  or earthquake  all these little triangles hovering jittering above me   I wonder if this is how the universe actually moves   or what it truly looks like

XII.

upside-down reflections of walking legs move as the inverse of walking and sway with a sexy air voluminous breeze parting    moving away in a regal but  aimless sashay

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

At the Mar Vista Public Library

the ponytail blonde in the banana sweater & black leggings
floats in some fiction world she belongs in
then asks the librarian a question I cannot hear

she shrugs when she speaks
(reluctant windmill)

she figure-skates her slow, shelved glissando
(fantasia of the no-talking zone)

I am writing this poem when
she shoots past my table
with a green hardcover book–

I did not catch the title
or ask for her name
so I am left with
only my words:

anxieties
I find harder
& harder to
decipher
every
day

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)

Eat Your Face

You wanted to eat my face
just as seven A.M. south Oregon fog
conceals trees over a low valley.
I wanted the same of yours.

What you liked was the sky descended:
how you’re able to grip, fleetingly,
the mortal, shifting clouds–
to think, I have touched the untouchable.

Many pines, from a distance, can be held
by two fingers. We can choose to let them dangle
or hold
steady, steady

The fog consumes and rises
while we watch the sun burn slowly west.

When the rain begins,
the soft pattering against the windshield
mimics the sound of your jaw
fake-chomping my cheeks–
nearly-inaudible clicks.

The speedometer oscillates
between sixty-five and ninety.

The hillsides change so suddenly
with every mile– shifting smiles hidden
by a fog you know will also fade.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA)

*Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Writing Knights Press in 2017