What He Did With the Insides

It’s been three months but I still glance in the bushes each morning. I still look for the Thrift Town purse of soft Sienna brown leather, two zip pockets, shoulder straps to my waist, brass corner points so the bottom won’t wear out.  Maybe it will turn up beneath a spiderweb veil, or, the neighbors will find it when they are picking potato chip bags out of their gardens, and lay it out, scuffed, empty but whole, flipped from his thieving grasp.  This is what my purse had inside: Andalou shampoo, a post-it list reading:1) quinoa 2) beets 3) Mt Tam cheese 4)fenugreek 5)Jacket!,  a pink dry cleaner’s ticket; one bar of charcoal soap with bee imprint, one tiny Bromeliad head sticking out the top that I had just bought at Shell Dance, a wallet and my ever present camera.  Did he thrust each useless item from his enormous hands out the car window as he sped away down 580?  Did he he read the list and squint his eyes and wonder for a second about fenugreek, stick the note on the dashboard and smile at his criminal’s memento, written in the language of my world where spices and shampoo are more expensive than meat?  Did he pause at the black soap – think it was medicinal, or edible?  At the bottom, my wallet, cashless but clunky with cards of promise that filled the gas tanks of his friends before I remembered and stumbled upstairs to cancel them. I see him, sweating and panting, left hand steering the speeding Civic, right hand in my bag, feeling my camera in an adolescent blind grope hoping the smooth metal might be a Canon PowerShot.  When he saw the no-name brand did he hurl it over the Hegenberger bridge watching it shatter on the freeway?  I see him unceremoniously tossing the camera to a friend, or girlfriend, or his skeptical mother.  I imagine the ceremony of his lie, theft and lies together like a top hat and cane, his gifts a conceit of generosity.  Still, I want to know if someone accepted my camera from him without question.  If he first deleted all the year’s images in two clicks, or was he curious or bored enough between thefts to view them.  I wonder did he see the picture I took of my mother’s face, a stricture under hazy golden light in Visitation Room 7, after my father had pushed me closer “take a photo…go ahead, I want one.”

Three-hundred-twenty- six images followed that one, none titillating.  Unless he is tickled by my legs in that accidental shot, when I awoke to the somnolent cats curved together like an Escher at my feet.  I took three steps to the dresser, picked up the camera, stumbled and simultaneously snapped my bare, hairy legs as the absurd monthly flow began to run, a carmine thread captured in a graceless, sideways picture of loss.



Idling between consciousness and the blank unknown, I nap in the hope a contorting dream will puncture the sameness
a breeze like a kiss from a potent, masked visitor laps onto the shore of my face
promising to fulfill my desire revealing nothing of how

two vulnerable wisps dream beside me, chasing something they won’t catch
grasping with retracted claws, double snores descending notes

uncounted times: a dog barks, a mockingbird chatters, Redwood fronds wave at my
window, their rusty red come-hither tips and shadows shield me from the light

time is swallowed in a nap, it goes down easy like a sliver of salted avocado,
letting me go back
a propeller plane advertising Coppertone on a still banner crossing a windless southern sky, the engine peevishly putts

napping in the sand because my bones were growing, making me the peasant I am,
napping after my sister kept me up all night with some busyness, and I read Hiroshima under the covers
blind alcohol tests, a punchbowl dunking party, and a longed-for kiss, denied.

I lay sedated by the sun, legs splayed like a frog’s, like all the others dozers,
surrendered on neon colored towels, sand going all up in our dark places

on that beach a gray/blue indistinguishable horizon told me the world is not flat
my hands cupped sand off to the sides, my skin sizzled, burned red like the peasants
before me

I swam towards that camouflaged line, meeting wave after wave
who, impervious to my strokes
until dizzy from salt water I turned back to ride ashore

I made my way home up the cliffs, like a lizard injected with heat.

At night I watched the shock of white appear as the bikini came off
its lines patterning my nakedness, rubbing sand from my ears,
shivering from hot to cold


100 words or less


The diminutive woman, wrapped in plaids, stripes, hat with wide straw brim, bent at the waist and in three moves severed the securely taped memorial bouquet which had been attached to the deadly telephone pole not three minutes ago by Lacy who just reached the next corner, with her forgotten sympathy note, turned to see the woman remove the bouquet place it in her rolling cart of cardboard, cans, and bottles. Hey! Lacy called. The woman moved quickly through the street, Hey! Lacy screamed, the woman shot one open palmed hand  above her, a never surrendering sunflower, then rolled on.


Riding the skins of rainy streets, plunging puddles and skimming potholes, knees throbbing, hip aching, she’s riding to grow younger, with each downward push and thrust. She surveys the newly tarred road coming out of the overpass and looks for the flattened rat corpse she had swerved around only to be nearly hit by a white SUV three days past. There was the mound of fur and blood, now blackened as the tarred road. She brakes above it ignoring the honking behind her and examines the smooth noir imbedded mound imagining a blind, steamroll driver, listening to Maroon 5.


Replaying the short fight, Morgan critiqued his own punches: weak but on target. Certainly he’d seen the battered dog escape as the abuser dropped the leash to strike him rather than the dog. Eyes closed, he felt his face and jaw which he pictured grapefruit size but found were merely tender. The pavement around him all pebbly glass and weeds. I did it. he exhaled three times. “Who the fuck are you? The dog savior?” He glimpsed two young amused faces, “Get up man. You’ve got a friend.” Then his face was bathed by a salty, meaty, rescued tongue.