Night comes tripping inside my head.
Wind bursts sway trees tops,
then stillness drops.
Dreams flap, soar on an updraft.
Notes land, wings enwrap me.
Feather steps skip
down a staircase without a slip
into silence that echoes
up a gallery for three floors
under every bedroom door.
Crystal bells are stones
dropped into a well,
circles spin into darkness,
(First Published in Red Fez, Issue 105, 2017)
she locks the door on herself
She’s a visitor in her own house
and can’t find the kitchen
Sun is a stranger for weeks after natural disasters
when fires burned in Vancouver forests
when mountain waves tore the eastern shore
when Hurricane Maria flattened Puerto Rico
now in Colorado a thousand miles from California,
red sunsets mimic firestorms of the west
Along the west coast, days are dark with smoke
and cinders fall like rain in my sister’s hair
Capricious Santa Ana winds skip the fire from place to place
a new forest fire blooms and rages in Santa Rosa
makes leaps that miss my sister’s town of Sebastapol
but devours a section of Santa Rosa blocks from where she works
My sister shows up at work but nobody’s there
she flees back home to wait for evacuation
Demon fire melts trees, animals, people’s lives,
heats sauna rocks, hot enough to bake tortillas
Giant sequoia rings of fire tower over the forest
smoke clogs Cascadia and rolls to the Pacific
She breathes through a scarf over her face
lungs ache, eyes smart
The stranger outside forces himself in with smoke,
walking backward, Cory closes her door on the fire
Somber serious Mr. Lieu visits for dinner.
His face shows he knows pain and sorrow,
he’s a survivor, one of the Vietnam boat people.
Many relatives were victim of war,
struck with the speed of a banded krait,
bit with more poison than it takes to kill.
Some corpses were sunk in stinking mud paddies,
others decapitated, their heads staked on poles.
He alone escaped, rowing a boat out to sea at night
into placid water the temperature of soup.
A helicopter patrol saw only an empty rowboat
but soldiers leaned out the door with rifles,
shot up spray, one bullet grazed his arm
while he held his breath and prayed,
hanging to the underside of the craft
while blowfish stung his arms and legs.
After they left, he hauled up his swollen body,
tumbled over the edge of the boat
and collapsed on the bottom,
a pile of wet rags with fever.
He floated into angry waves
as big as his house to freedom.
A navy ship dredged him up,
turned him over to military police.
He was sent to a refugee camp,
processing papers took months.
He was granted sanctuary in America,
loves this country for it,
but if you say the word Communist,
he’ll spit on the floor.
His kindness sits at our table,
gentleness cloaks our home,
He’s an elder who mows old women’s grass
because he cares.
Anthology: Gould Writer’s at Guest House 2017
Date Published: Dec. 15, 2017