When first they came to earth, the aliens took the form of cars, misidentifying them from orbit as
the dominant life form on this planet. I’ve always wondered about that. Like, where do cars even
sleep, unless parking lots are like alien flophouses. Before her accident, my stepmother used to
joke that it could be worse, they could have manifested as Starbucks…. On the day of my road
test to get my license, my dad had a meeting or something so my stepmother picked me up
outside my high school cafeteria instead. I almost didn’t recognize her in her neutral gray blazer
and skirt, this look in her eye. She was on her lunch hour, and even though we were running late,
she stopped at a drive thru on the way to the DMV. Once the driving inspector buckled himself
into the passenger seat, it was like him and me no longer even existed for my stepmother. She
spread unfolded paper napkins across the back seat like a picnic blanket and ate her lunch. I
stared into the rear view mirror, trying to reconcile this completely self-contained person with
the stepmother who had a special chicken soup recipe for when I was sick, who liked to pinch
my father’s tight belly and make him laugh. I was watching her when the inspector shouted
“Stop! Stop!” because I’d rolled through a stop sign. I pumped the brakes too furiously and too
fast and stalled the car in the middle of the intersection. My stepmother had been holding a
ketchupped fry to her face when I stopped, and it painted a red stripe across her cheek. There
were stains on the seat, her blouse; the whole back seat was a mess of wrappers and ketchup,
special sauce and soda…. Sometimes I’ll find myself driving behind one of the aliens when they
fight gravity, riding their brakes down a small hill, or else swing from one lane to another like
they’re dodging laser attacks. I wasn’t always a great driver, but when you are stuck behind a car
and can tell there’s no one behind the wheel it makes you want to do something. I daydream
about tapping their bumper, just to remind them that they share the road, that we’re here…. I’m
friends with an EMT named Tim; he cleaned up the site after my stepmother’s accident, and he
told me he’s seen accident scenes where their bodies gave up passenger trash like blood, empty
water bottles and drink lids speared through by straws, French fry boxes smeared with ketchup. I
don’t think I could stand to see that.
stories have appeared in Whiskey Tit, Indicia, Pomme and elsewhere. He learned to drive on the seven hills of Worcester, MA, and that was enough to make him swear off getting behind the wheel for a decade.
Quarantine poem #131 “public health is confirming 5 additional cases...”
He walks from the hill a little kid inquisitive he won’t hear a word he’ll give you these theories like
putting their bulldog to death was a sign from god and ghosts in the wheelbarrows and did you lose power too ? because he did down there and who needs water ? we wondered what happened with a white bandana around his face and mosquitoes like telephone poles strung up silt-splashed legs and in his hand, balanced, a saucer of meat and onions grilled in blue smoke he walks to a patch of sand and dust stripped of long grass then steps through an orange door, a long step, too long for the carcass of his mom, which bends at the waste in bush shade that sits in leaf slur and shadow dance give me a car he says I’ll be president I’ll give them the wind too and lungs to have it baskets like rubber chickens everywhere like dog toys in the store
Quarantine poem #128 NV → UT
Quarantine poem #125 remembrance through farm pits of sound
lives in North Berwick, Maine. He has worked as a State Park Seasonal Aide, a bookseller, and as a poetry teacher for elementary schools (before the pandemic). He holds a degree in Philosophy and has served in AmeriCorps and FemaCorps. He is a winner of the Mendocino Coast Writers' Conference 2019 Poetry Contest. His work has appeared in 7x7, Joyland, A) Glimpse) Of), Cabildo Quarterly and elsewhere.
Holding emotion in the body is a visceral thing. The center sinks, turning bowl or vortex.
I read somewhere that the fabric of the universe curves around mass. Like that. Cup your
hands, like holding a bowling ball. A round weight. Lay down. Set it onto your chest. Feel
your edges start to flatten. I want to remember what it felt like to look into a mirror for
the first time. To watch a body move as you move. See yourself depicted — perfection,
simply by existing — each hair, the twitch of a brow, curvature of your lip. To lean
forward, watch shadow fall over your face. Closer.
I have been marked by things during my days on this earth. Sometimes I used to drag
towel to grass and lie for hours. Finger on wrist. Controlling the precise inflation, release,
of my ribcage. All of this air in me — and out again. I could almost see it, as steam from
slow kettle. I have been marked many times. All of this air. I let myself obstruct
everything that happens to me. Writing them, one by one, into shadow. It is almost
empowerment. To do this to myself. Not quite.
In nature there exist groups, containing all different shapes and sizes of things. Protists
and jellyfish. We metamorphose, just like mayflies. These groups. It moves as you move.
Hold its gossamer wings like a goblet. Lift stream-water to your lips. Abstraction has
always been this for me. Comfort, gliding down my throat. I float here, between myself
and this other. Both are me, but one is a stranger. Her body suspended in liquid, jarred
and shelved. Panic stings in the nostrils.
How can I look at myself like this other person? Drag fingertip over the surface of the
mirror, and wait intently for response, for movement. The center of the bowling ball,
pulling everything deep into my sternum. Sometimes I believe the weight of this will
crush me. Scatter me as pottery into ash.
How can I look at myself?
As I lie breathing on the grass, I feel it travel into the air. This reluctant release of my
lungs, the air pulled out of me, squeezed like paint from a tube. It moves like mist,
slowly, then faster. A migration, from lips to air, fine particles sucked out and away.
And as a faint recollection, somewhere far, I hear the sound of a deep inhale.
is a student at UC Berkeley, and is currently Editor in Chief of Berkeley Poetry Review. Her writing, forthcoming in Lumiere Review, Emerge Literary Journal, and Red Alder Review, explores the ways we carry emotion, inhabit our own bodies in illness and health, and find ourselves pulled towards or away from expression. She studies environmental science, but makes room in her heart for poetry and language, always.