Sharon Coleman, 7/12

 

Geranium, red

 

Like the flashing hand and count down numbers
……….warning me not to cross at Ashby & San Pablo

like fossil fuel rattling gears as it becomes motion
……….under Walgreen’s crimson signature

like a young woman who slaps the ass of a bus passing her by
……….or a tired old woman cross at her tired old man

like borrowed music from Mexico bouncing
……….from a SUV—kids inside roll down windows
……….to sing at this strange lady writing

like Heinz fancy ketchup factory
……….refashioned into generic shops

like twin t-shirts of two anarchists
……….who push a single black bike

like a woman who wails in the privacy of a parking structure
……….her voice ricochets off hollow steel

like low phantom noise that burns inside my ears
……….then cooled by sea wind churning

or like a smelly flower that unfolds against the painted wall
……….of an auto repair’s fix it all

or the newly released hand that snaps it off
……….puts it in a jar to sprout.

 

Cursive

 

The V of my legs over the black seat of his Yamaha
doubles the V of his legs as tires grip asphalt, pull us

forward, leave behind an almost hundred year old
apartment house built for survivors of the quake

next to a used Cadillac dealership. We weave through
downtown, past droves of high school students,

an encampment of homeless, scattered office workers,
city traffic, and leave behind the grid of city flats

to snake up hills.  He points to the corner where
he took a spill a week before in January rain, and

I feel asphalt—steamy in winter sun—close to bone-
breaking acceleration that leaves behind my signature

on withdrawal papers.  He says this is more real
than the classes I just dropped—I no longer trusted

the words I couldn’t even put onto paper.  I don’t
believe him. Yet I tighten my thighs around the cycle

as it grips the road and jets us forward, now past
Spanish-style homes behind wild landscapes,

dripping leaves. Past eucalyptus shedding swaths
of bark and scented oxygen, threatening to fall

from the rain-loosened soil beneath shallow roots.
The steep climb evens out at the road along the hills’

ridge, below squares of metal and glass, bay waters
beyond reflect strewn specks of afternoon sun.

Past us speed four Hell’s Angels, their red-brown
hair streaming.  We turn into the forest where

the road twists through evergreens, sometimes
a skeletal winter branch that drips darkness, cold

for lips underneath the helmet’s mask. We then dip
toward the hills’ eastern slope, a valley dotted by oaks.

Here we stop. Walk out to a stretch of low hills,
tall grass—mud firm under our steps. I look

further eastward, over round hills tinged pink
in diminishing light, to where my great grandfather

signed an X under his name for a farm in the shadows
of Mount Diablo. Look into dusk of gnarled branches—

brown against grey then black against dark blue—
oaken cursive arms to climb and lay my body in

until flesh and bone marry living wood, and exile
soaks into roots then soil below. We walk back.

Pull helmets tight over our heads. The cycle’s light
beams paths between dark trees, small glimpses,

like a reversed writing over roads and leaves.
Alone at midnight and blanketed by darkness

I’ll pour this writing into notebooks not to be
opened again for years—ink of heartless words,

half understood, soaks into pages now bathed
by slits of lights through the apartment blinds

from the dealership spotlights below while a man
who walks the streets screams curses into his night.

 

 

 

Sharon Coleman’s poems or blink fiction have appeared in Caesura, Criminal Class Review, Sparkle Blink, Blink Ink, Out of Our, Try!, The Walrus, Syllogism, Berkeley Poetry Review, Ghost Town/Pacific Review, North Coast Literary Review, Penumbra, Folio, and online at Lily, Full of Crow and Dark Sky Magazine.  She’s a contributing editor atPoetry Flash and teaches poetry writing at Berkeley City College. She is a co-curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges in Berkeley. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart for blink fiction.

 

 

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