2 poems by
dead Fishhook Cactus and Blazing Star,
with Jack-In-The-Pulpit and Jacob’s Ladder
we’re overgrown. Sweet William,
my doomed brother,
hiding from dad in Crape Myrtle.
Me, Sweet Pea, pulling weeds
and parched ferns gold
from harsh sun. We know
only common names, slang
rejected by the International
Botanical Congress, no genus
or when to water or why
they grown. My brother and me,
if we could be weeds, poison-proof
and care free, strangling
the roots of Western Wallflowers,
no fruit to tell who melted
in the compost. We’d defy
extinction, no family arrangements
or bland cultivation, our noble life’s purpose
only a race to the sun.
slope back manner, bowed hip
and gruffness grew from a fist-sized
gouge in his side—
impaled in a motorcycle wreck
Jack saw his father in a flash,
once in 40 years, a solemn
hospital encounter between
the War and Depression.
Bluff Cove was years behind,
decades before a spark shot an ear
deaf, heatstroke in Egypt,
infection in Okinawa.
His mother and brother flaunted
their brains and book work—
Jack fell back on one-armed
handstands, God given less sense
and grand muscle, a short cliff diver
at home on the Bay Points of Santa Monica.
1930, bathing in black wool,
a mercury sky; they seem chilled
in the photos, on the day Jack
cut his hand on the breakers.
Pearle, student nurse, Rose Parade
Queen finalist—her gaze ruffled
his hair, hands gracious with the wound
swaddled in a strip of blanket.
Alzheimer’s settled for good in 1989,
Jack’s days drifting out to tide.
Who be you? to a startled grandchild,
Fire on the beach is nice,
over and over, question or declaration.
was like last words.