Land of Alkali and Chromate

Erie with its dead fish in the ’50s, the Cayuhoga River burned. Air was filled with chartreuse particles and the earth wore a witch’s lip around ponds of sulfur, salt, a burbling grey soup waiting for my father to fall into. He grabbed at the slippery sides in the dark, muck sucking his shoes off….

Entanglement

He is the quince and she is the sparrow trapped in his snarl, his heart of thorns, jangled twigs. No easy way out. Or rather, she is the quince and he is the sparrow craving the nectar of her locked blossoms, crimson on the bud. Egress? There’s always flight. The sky is where he left…

The Hallway Of Burst Safeguards

The Pacific receives the river. Here the plume slips into bluer water. It splinters the sand. A feather floats, a child’s spoon washes in. Upstream where sagebrush edges riverbanks cradling Hanford’s gray halls, birds forage through grass broken as straw. Nancy Dickeman‘s poems and essays are forthcoming or have appeared in Post Road 32, Poetry…

To Love

When the priests, in their beads and capes stitched from feral hides, led me under the New England pines, they whittled the tip of a sawn limb         to gently press up through ribs, and the ventricular hollow, and on that spit, their meaty hands dipped me in the river, and as promised, I felt nothing…

Rambo’s Bohemia

And so I left, my fists tearing new pockets in a coat made of bullet holes. The sweaty blue sky ordered me to dream and I asked how high! Appleseed, John J. In ripped fatigues I scattered handfuls of blood no matter where I tried to go. Homeless most nights, I watched my stars slide…

Under the Bridge

Hey Pocahontas, why don’t you blow me with that mouth? My hand involuntarily travels to my hair. No braids. Tug the wife-beater stolen from my brother over the band of my cut-offs. He is older. Unknown. Under the bridge where we hide, drink, smoke, fuck. He moves closer, squats, thigh muscles bulge. Once on the…

The Briquette I Carry is Heavy

My mother wraps it in newspaper. When I unwrap it at school to help feed the pot-bellied stove, black comes off on my hands. My teacher always wears black. My grandmother wears black. My grandfather, my uncle, my aunt, my godmother wear black. I don’t wear black, I wear a scratchy blue dress that belonged…

Pharmalogical Eyes

Resisting his long-lashed beacons shining through the windscreen of the white Chevy Impala proved as futile as keeping the wind from the air. The Pied Piper of tenth-grade girls guaranteed my giving all. I wanted the everything all the way the American Prince held back held back, held back, held back liege to the siren…

Dusk Falls Just Before Grand Junction

I filled my tank before I left Telluride: Pederson’s station, fifty cents. I’m headed as far as the heat allows. Somewhere, there’s a spotless life, clear of every working part. I’ve been searching for two rivers’ confluence, cliffs that ripple from their certain horizon. Red upon red. I’ll let the groomed roads guide me. Kathryn…

Sweet Chariot

sotto voce I would not admit this to another soul but I will to you, sleepless reader: I need a ride home. Too much, much too much of a good thing! On that road to death, low tones accompany me, dulcet ditties echo; since the realization of fallibility, as seen on TV, I’ve been swingin,…

Wild Flowers

I saw my body anew, bursting in flame. I smoldered becoming a meadow, Reborn as wildflowers. The lupine is blooming; please stop your war. Zach Pike-Urlacher currently splits his time between Mount Shasta, California, and Shaw Island, Washington. He does stream and river restoration work in California but is currently living on Shaw, building a…

Freeway Fractal

Traffic got nowhere. I got coffee. The barista put vanilla in my drink, so it could be sweeter, and she means well, but this all feels like a heart attack, outside every city— myocardial infarction: death of the heart tissue. I broke down before Seattle. Restarted my alternator, and put a solvent in the engine…