New Writing



Let me be the colors you see

when you close your eyes. 

Photo:  Sara Hanif



Fly Trap

The carnivorous blossom hung on its stem under a plastic canopy that sweated on the inside with a miniature, mock-tropical atmosphere. We nourished others: the philodendron, and the kentia palm, but the plant that was a mouth kept our purest attention. Why didn’t we ask questions in those days, what it meant that green life accepted flesh?

Your divorce was gaining, and your latest job, the puppy and the cold north wind that winter enough to make us feel we knew our selves and our lives. Gently tugging the plastic canopy, and placing the nugget of red beef just so, the drowse continued, the long dream.

We had a new stereo, and the woofer made the hardwood shiver. Twice a week you called your children, and every month you lasted a weekend in the distant town. Home together again, we nearly named our ultra-lash relic, laughing.

It was our adopted conversation piece, a stare that required sacrifice, the living relic of a vanished god, the heavy lids that needed blood like a previous life, or a life to come, one we would repeat after this because of all the truths we were too preoccupied to learn. Until one day it folded and was a withered empty strand.

Perhaps we should have named it, and perhaps we should have taken more time in those days to love what we were. We forgot, if we ever knew, how one day needs both the mornings to come and the ones past, that to live is to take from air and wake hungry.


Bone Gossip  
We learned the local dialect, the slangy baby talk that passed for chat, but all along I felt the cops glide by, not the comfy local veterans with their faded jailhouse tattoos, but the new ones, freshly-shaved and just out of the academy, aviator sunglasses and up-armored allure.   

The video of you played on every subway platform, pretending to be dead-gorgeous in the trailer for the story of your afterlife. But like a child learning comportment from old movies, when to take off the fedora, when to slip the hand from the satin glove, it is the taking off you learned, never the putting on again.   

The heat would break soon, shatter and leave the sky cold from river to stars. The lottery tickets would stop fluttering on the kiosk beside the vacant fountain. The sparrows were razors, slicing every which-way, and in the shambles yearling organs were worried forth and weighed.   

Why was our separate joy such a surprise? You were up for the prize, and got it.  The columns of marble in the goat field were waiting for the pluck of the contractor's plumb line, reassembled at last, and the old gods turned into investors watched from the olive grove, faceless behind their allergy guards, paper filters pulsing with their secrets. 


Fly Trap and Bone Gossip appear in the December 2017 issue of Stand.



 After Fire


The canyon is empty.
Even the scarlet stems
of poison oak.
Car hulls, ash.
Trees among
trees like breath.


We step across the field, char crushing underfoot,
carbon in the lungs, you beside me, hush, hush
and the soft, softer fault-line of desire.


What is left?  The house burned to a chimney, a front step to nothing. The sky gone except for the absent sky.


This was where she opened the book and burned.





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