Thursday, October 19, 2017


It's sad how something about the care-
free way this woman at the beach strolled 
up--her breasts just hanging 
as they hang, her smile unclouded 
by the areas of loose skin around her power-
ful striding thighs, her sway apologizing for neither 
excess nor lack of sexuality, her glance 
not checking for other glances, her joy
beaming from skin not fretted 
over as too pale or too dark, her whole body 
vibrating with the power of not being 
judged as right or wrong but just freely 
and forcefully existing--that told me 
she wasn't from here, even before spoke.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Way the World Ends

If the sun should slowly go dark
settling us into eternal lightless night
the windows of our souls shuttered for good
and in the twilight of this fading star falls the shadow
dooming us to gloomy dusky death
I would mourn
for the way the dawn illuminates the golden sweep of your hair across your face
for the reflection of radiance in your eyes as you look down into mine
for the morning backilght on the bare curve of your hip
edging you
coming alive
you me and the sun

If the sea should rise up tumid past its shores
quondam polar ice caps drowning us in retribution
robbing our lungs of precious air
god repenting him of having made us sinners
cleansing tenuous life from this holy sphere
I would cry
for breaths stolen between kisses
for waves of laughter sent into the night
for the musk of you, redolent of sandalwood and sweat and sand
gasps of joy and pleasure between the breakers
getting high
you, me, and the sea
If the earth should slip off its axis
gravity slackening and whirling us from its surface
setting us adrift into the cold vacuum of space
no longer bound to ground or bound for heaven
hurling us from its tired back between the motion and the act
I would ache
for the hot weight of your arm across my sleepy chest
for the heft of your strong body in my loving arms
for the gut-wrenching freefall of trusting you, and soft landings in your solid embrace
falling in general, in love
garden paths and rabbit holes for
going down
you, me, and the earth
If fire should start to rain down from the sky
incinerating our forests and our villages and homes
searing flesh and spreading densest smoke across the land
cinder and brimstone raining like the judgment of Gomorrah
scorching our skin and setting our frames ablaze like dry grass
I would grieve
for the chill of your kiss evaporating on my forehead
for winter evening walks in the crook of your arm
for snuggling up to you before the hearth against the cold
cool breath on sweaty necks
you, me, and the fire
I hope when we go, if we do, it is not with a whimper, but a bang.

3 Limericks About Llamas

There was a republican llama.
He drank and he caused himself trauma.
He fell off the roof
and injured his hoof
and blamed the whole thing on Obama.

 A llama was once named petunia.
Or maybe she was a vicuña.
Every time that she'd dance,
off came her pants.
If you stood behind her she would moon ya.

 Incontinence plagued an alpaca.
It ruined attempts to play soccer.
When he dribbled the ball,
the ball was not all
that he dribbled: there also was caca.

Sonnet # 6

I love the beach on brilliant sunny days
With sky and sea reflecting golden rays,
The hot white light that shimmers on the sand,
The swimmers' bodies oiled, taut, and tanned.

On such a brilliant day I love you, too.
When skies and eyes both shine the brightest blue
When brows and shores are free of stormy guile
And sunshine beams from waves and from your smile.

But when the fog rolls in across the bay
A solemn beauty permeates the grey
The swells are gorgeous flecked with tears and rain
The cliffs are stunning through the wind and pain

The beach and you are in a class together
I love you irrespective of your weather.

Need More Space?

“need more 
asks sign
on my way 
home. the sign
is attached to a 
large (compared to 
me) building. i 
look up past the 
sign and the 
building and see winter 
stars, the blazing 
bottom half of the 
moon, the andromeda 
galaxy, and all the 
black between. it 
is interesting to me that 
in actuality almost 
all of the known 
universe is 
that we live 
on a planet with 
more sea than 
land, that 
even the atoms of 
your body and 
mine are more 
than matter, that i 
will spend more moments 
of my life without 
you than in your sweet 
presence. so no, we 
have plenty of 
dear sign. it
is the everything 
else that we need.

Smokebreak Outside the Silver Reign Gentlemen’s Club, Autumn

She closes her eyes toward the setting sun like a prayer, her skin tanned, her shirt white, her hair the color of honey, an ember between two fingers at her side. She likes the way the air is cool and the sun is warm here in November, likes that from half a block down you can smell the pine trees over the Quiznos and the shawarma place, likes that from here the 10 sounds enough like the ocean. She traces a finger along brick rough like a man’s stubble, and lets herself really feel it. A shirtless youth glides by on his board, his face tuned to her body, and she notices. A raven caws somewhere, a newspaper with the angry faces of candidates flaps half-heartedly against a stopsign pole, a helicopter is searching for someone toward Brentwood. She focuses her thoughts on the fire inside of her. For a moment, at least, she has found peace.

She doesn’t seem to know what I know.

Soon she will frown at her watch, drop her cigarette on the ground, grind it out and go back to work. The butt will lie there as a reminder, fading over the next few days, its paper shell breaking down and the brown tobacco inside puffing out like the guts of an overloved rag doll, and on Thursday the street cleaner will angrily snatch it up and no human being will ever contemplate it again. The newspaper, too, will deteriorate, but new ones will be printed every day until the old people die off and only the web version remains. One of those candidates will win and people will have feelings about it, and in four years there will be new angry faces on the papers. The helicopter won’t find its man this time, but it will find other men sometimes and one day the force will get an upgrade and this one will sit in storage until they sell it to CBS for a period cop show that will be set now.

The needles will one by one fall off these pine trees and turn to dirt and be replaced by new needles, entire branches will turn brown and a man from the city will remove them in a cherry picker with a power saw. The sidewalk will crack, and men from the city will fix that, too. The Quiznos will close for a while and reopen as a boba place and then a vegan sandwich store. The shawarma place will get passed down to the owner’s daughter, who didn’t want it. Eventually the whole building will be torn down and replaced by a mixed-use development with apartments above a Coffee Bean, an art supply store, and a small gym.

The youth whizzing by has a few more years of still being one. As winter comes, and again with middle age, he’ll take his shirt off less and less. One day after his mom’s funeral he’ll find his board behind the freezer in her garage, and he’ll turn with a disbelieving smile to show it to someone, but there won’t be anyone there.

The girl will finish her shift, pay her rent, come back here tomorrow and the next days and take more breaks. She will put these shoes in a bag that she means to take to the Goodwill on Santa Monica, and then throw it away when she moves because her daughter is getting too big to not have her own room. The shirt will go out of style and she’ll think of it as her “grungies” that she wears for housework, and then it’ll be a rag for dusting. She will experience joy and pain, her body will be mistreated by men with faces like brick and by time itself. Younger girls will start making the kind of money she now makes. She will buy new parts. She will try new hair colors as an affordable way of reinventing herself. She’ll get a new job in a bar where the men drink to forget things and she will make many of them feel noticed again for a moment. Her idea of success will gradually shift to being about making her daughter successful instead. Something dark will grow in her, caused by the tanning or the cigarettes or the sun. She will be buried in a wig the color of honey. Her daughter will cry and wonder what moments she may have missed, never knowing like I do about this golden moment in the sun.

I myself will turn grey one day. I will lose my words as aluminum takes over my neural pathways, and I will die. I will write this all down in my computer so people might remember me once I’m gone, and they will for a while, and then they won’t.

This whole city will grow and grow upward and outward. The sea will encroach and the Novembers will get warmer. They will ration the water. Legislation will be passed to try to limit the population. Bricks will turn to red dust and blow away. The American empire will fall. Overpasses will house the people and then crumble. Future excavators will find remnants of computers in the earth and never unlock the writings inside. In seven billion years, the sun’s core will run out of hydrogen and then helium, and its outer layers will expand rapidly and envelop the earth, melting its nickel core and vaporizing all known life. Entropy will leave the universe cold and black like marbles coming to rest after a spill.

She doesn’t seem to know any of this.

She frowns at her watch, drops her cigarette to the ground, grinds it out and goes back to work. For a moment, she, at least, has found peace. Another moment passes. A raven caws somewhere. I close my eyes toward the setting sun like a prayer.

Haiku #1

colors glow brighter
beauty precedes the darkness
twilight of mankind



 by robbie x pierce

I swear I heard my father’s groan:
Fatigue distilled into my ears.
But I am in the house alone
And he’s been dead for seven years.

Might his exhausted, heavy breath
Be echoing around my heart?
Has he unclamped the chains of death
With one last message to impart?

 This was exactly that old sigh
He’d breathe when getting home at night
And hearing now, I can’t deny
I see him in another light.

 Back then we children yelled and played
And rolled our eyes at groans from dad,
And now they’re back I’m not afraid;
This ghostly sound just makes me sad.

 I guess this happens when you’re grown
And scraping home from work alone.
You swear you hear your father’s groan
But it’s not his; it’s just your own.

Through the Darkness

A boy murmurs, crestfallen, his voice not yet changed. He stands with a man with postures like they might not know each other, definitely not family. It’s warm for January, dark for seven o’clock. The sounds are: high school kids clanging latchkey doors, dogs jingling their masters along, the helados truck playing its calliope siren, the grand traffic of La Brea, grandmothers calling the children to dinner.

The boy and the man stand like they’re stuck here outside this apartment gate, unsure, travelers despairing of a rendezvous at a darkening oasis. He’s a light-skinned boy, his knees plump and ashy, dorky in his basketball shorts and his mix of disappointment and failed bravery. The man wears a beanie and all black; he didn’t go to any job today. The tired sort of man with skin that will always be watched in businesses. As he responds to the boy he looks wearily up the street both ways without letting the boy see.

“You know she loves you, man. She buys you food, she buys you nice shoes, she takes you on trips.” The boy murmurs again, perhaps more hopeful this time, but now I’m past. No one is coming up the street with keys out, hugging and apologizing and blaming dead phones. Just the boy and the man, standing there hoping defiantly in the barred shadows of a gate.

God bless the tired men who heal these hurting boys, and god bless the boys who see love in a meal and a trip and basketball shoes that shine through the darkness all the way back to my own house.