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..:: CONTENTS ::..
   Volume VIII, Issue II

..:: POETRY ::..


..:: PROSE ::..

..:: ETC ::..
   Contributor's Notes

..:: ARCHIVES ::..
   Volume I, Issue I
   Volume I, Issue II
   Volume II, Issue I
   Volume II, Issue II
   Volume III, Issue I
   Volume III, Issue II
   Volume IV, Issue I
   Volume IV, Issue II
   Volume V, Issue I
   Volume V, Issue II
   Volume VI, Issue I
   Volume VI, Issue II
   Volume VII, Issue I
   Volume VII, Issue II
   Volume VIII, Issue I

 
Poetry


from After the Fox
Travis Cebula & Sarah Suzor

 

I hear you're in the desert. I hear you.
I hear you're sick of mooning
over a conversation that never happened.
I hear you're tired of asking, tired
of what's the matter? I promise not to ask.

Or maybe just once.
Just one time so I can say,
Morning, you were so right
to scatter, to be with the desert,
to stare at the sun.  To get in
tight with the horizon.
Hang the blue sky
over the desert.
The desert hides everything.

Morning, you were so right.
You know what I know about California?
California is bored with prayers.
California keeps all the millions of lost
and lonely missives under its pillow.  It keeps my promises.
California knows what it's like
to be up to your throat in something—
California doesn't care.

We've cranked the windows down.
We've done the old-fashioned-
drive-all-night-until-dead-birds-litter-the-highway.
We've worn out all the love songs
there are to play.  In other words,
we've heard their pitch, but
"I'm a million miles away.
and there's nothing left
to bring me back today."

Yes, I've been following you.
Yes, I've been counting trees
back to the crossroads,
to see where they'll buy souls
for the blues. I asked everyone I saw how long until
the continent slips away.  How long
before we can sleep? In prayers?  In songs?
They told me a few more.

A very few.
_ _ _ _

 

 

I wouldn't believe them.
Believe me, I wouldn't.
I'm here,
not still, but finally,
and I'll tell you what I know already:
These streets ain't narrow.
In fact, they never end.
No one here wears shoes
and there's not a broken bottle in sight.
In other words,
you'll never need your legs again.
Unless you dance.
I can't remember, Nocturnal,
do you dance?

And what I've learned about dead birds?
It's the ol' if-you-love-something-set-it-free.
At least that's what I've learned
about garbage.

Everything comes to California to die.
Everything.
It's intoxicating.
It is tectonic.
It's the ol' weather's-here-wish-you-were-beautiful.
And never the other way around.
Never.

Everything in sight is either
a postcard or a sad song,
a love letter or a slow dance.
California buries the darkness with the dead.
In other words,
I'm afraid
for you, Nocturnal.
I'm afraid you should
turn yourself
right
around.

It's the ol' square-peg-in-a-round...
The old fox with his head caught down the rabbit's hole.

Nocturnal, if you don't die,
you may have to dig your way out.

In other words,
I wouldn't believe them.
Believe me, I wouldn't.
_ _ _ _

 

 

Don't worry, I don't
listen. To them or anyone.
Believe me like I believe
the next exit
will be the last or
the best.

Oh, Morning.  I dig myself
out every day.
And it doesn't mean I'm not dead.
It doesn't mean I believe in handfuls
of daisies tossed on a grave.
It doesn't mean I believe what I've spoken, or heard, or I
can get my head around a love letter.

I believe in blooming, how it comes
from knowing dirt is your bed, even
how it grows from rain and promises—
even mine, with the darkness
of their broken wings

looming.  But I see what you mean about garbage.

I see what you mean about not wearing shoes
because we all end up dead,
and anyway. We all end
up in square holes.
I may have been
round to begin with.
Round and round with you.

Morning, you're still there.
If I know you, you're listening
to The Strokes.
You're in California, so you know.
You know I'm almost,
and been that way as long as either
of us can remember.
But I'm soon, too. And nearly.

It'll be my turn when I get there.
Oh, I'll turn.
I'll turn in a slow dance with you
in a rooftop bar. And I'll say this:
all dancing should be slow.

What will we do up there?
Will we admire bodies
of water by starlight?  
Will it be the same? I'm afraid not.
What do you think of that?

In other words,
will we watch a singular pearl
of condensation glide
down a bottle's neck?
Will we know the difference?

That will be California,
and I will be later.  Did I mention?
Much later than I thought.  Because
I'm afraid to tell the greater truth,
that I'll look towards the water
and call a trench a trench.
_ _ _ _

 

 

If that's your biggest worry,
I wouldn't.
I wouldn't bother believing in starlight
from any height,
any amount of stairs.

I am staring at the Pacific,
face-to-face.
And believe me, it surrounds.
It will dust off our graves
with one little lick.
It will swallow us whole
whenever it sees fit.

The whole thing about fear
is never knowing.
Never knowing what will happen
when you let go.
When there's no one left
to talk you off the ledge.
It's freedom.
It's "I wanna glide down over Mulholland.
         I wanna write her
         name in the sky."
In other words,
it's frightening.

Nocturnal, what would you like
to write in the sky?
What would you like to stitch
in your skin?

Take your time.
No one here is waiting for you.
Always, anymore, or longer.
No one's beating their head
against the wall.
And that's the truth.
The greatest and the worst.
One-step-forward-two-steps-back.
Or is it the other way around?
Which way is it, Nocturnal? You
tell me.

I'll
tell you: a shovel won't get you anywhere.
Unless you trade sleeping under the stars for
sleeping under the sea.
Unless you grow gills.
In other words, until you can slit
your own throat.

Can you handle that?

Is it a deal, Nocturnal?
Do we
have a deal?

_ _ _ _

 

 

It's a deal.
I'll find a tungsten shovel.
I'll find something made for sinking.
Every time the sun rises
in California, I'll sleep in the sea.
You can watch me trade
breezes for a wet nap,
for a weed cap in some dark
place away from heat,
away from angry looks and traffic.

The first time
I came here I watched the Pacific.
I sat on a swing and saw the hour when
darkness chased the surfers

out of Hermosa. The chains squeaked.  
And everything drowned
in droplets of rose. Now I can't even see
the mountains, even though they're close
enough to lick. The air is viscous,
and grey. The early spring days get too long
with all this face to face,
and so much choking.
There are no stars left for the sky.

I'd write one word up there,
BLUE, and I'd write it in all
capital letters and I'd write it in
black magic marker.  Children
will ask, why does the sky say blue?

We'd say because
it really isn't.  We'd say
because it's one step forward
and a backward stagger.
I'd tattoo that on my forehead
with the help of a curb and a hard fall.

Morning, the first time
I swaggered into LA
it was Dramarama. It was lost angels.
I'd give them anything-anything-anything.
And now?
Well, you know about now.
You know how nothing
terrifies me more than daylight-
savings time. Nothing could be worse
than losing a single hour.

You've never been afraid
of now, the way I've been
of after. Of when I'll slit
my own neck with an amber bottle. Of when I'll bleed.

I'll handle that.
Grace comes easy with darkness.
But I'm stubborn. And I go straight for the head.
And you should know that well
before we make a deal.

Don't say anything
that bleeding daybreak can't heal, that time can't make
a grave for.  In other words,
don't fret.  Don't get anxious.  The point is—
it's not nearly last call yet.
The point is—
I have half a mind to keep going.
I have half
a roll of quarters, and there's a jukebox
right by the dance floor.
It's right where we left it.

Morning, will you give me
that hour back?  You'll see.
I only need the one.
_ _ _ _

 

 

//   Advance   //