—Deborah Ramos, Santee, CA
Determined tires grip the road,
no breaking for nature’s speed bumps.
Zigzagging squirrels, cheeks stuffed,
never reach the other side,
crumpled by two tons of moving metal.
Crows pick at flesh and shattered bones
only to become victims to the unyielding chariots.
Bloody entrails spread like minced meat,
feathers flapping like a fancy-dancers headdress.
Diamondback tangled in orange road netting,
mouth stretched open, fixed in a frozen attack.
Bitumen painted with the carnage of irrelevant animals,
crisping to leather along asphalt edges.
No witness, no justice, no honorable interment.
Is this the way a warrior dies?
A good samaritan calls 9-1-1
There’s been a hit and run on 125 South,
a mountain lion has lost her way.
No sirens, no lights, no rescue,
for the fallen messengers.
Let me scrape up the pieces,
and return them to the universe.
I will make offerings of cornmeal and tobacco
so they may finish their journey.
Bovines herd through the canyon.
Heavy hooves kick up clouds of dirt and flies,
trampling whatever crosses their path.
No stopping for children zigzagging on bicycles.
They keep traveling, shoulder to shoulder,
They keep mooing, noses to beefy rumps,
leaving the innocent with scrapes and contusions.
Joggers flattened by one ton of Black Angus.
Spandex appendages tattered and abandoned in the dust.
The homeless swoop in with cardboard signs
picking through pockets and backpacks.
It’s not like they’re endangered,
it’s just another fish with legs.
Thanks, Deborah! Deborah Ramos writes: I grew up in Ocean Beach, a small beach community in San Diego, California. I am an artist, poet, teacher, lover, mother, grandmother, and recycler. I am a graduate of San Diego State University where I studied art, textiles, costume design and history of theatre. My poetry has appeared in SageWoman Magazine, The League of Laboring Poets Spring 2008, the San Diego Anthology 2010, and will soon be appearing in the Blue Light Press Anthology 2011. In June 2010, my collection of ten poems, entitled Road Warriors, was awarded the Best Unpublished Poetry Chapbook 2010 by the San Diego Book Awards Association. When I’m not writing or painting, I work as a Special Education Instructional Assistant with high school students. My astrological sign is Cancer and I was born in the year of the Tiger, an interesting combination of forces. The search for balance continues.
bathed in crimson,
i sit, facing the east
my third eye opens.
silent waves of dawn
rinse the sinewy chasm of my beginnings,
and all that has been.
soaked in golden smoke,
ancient hide stretches wet,
and tightly shrinks,
laced taut around a hoop of fire.
the faint, rhythmic pulse
circles our naked alter.
sacred honey-ripe vulva
drums you from the Elk-cave.
serpentine bodies press close.
skin fuses to skin.
primal desires ignite
within smoldering walls.
the canal fills,
and my river becomes yours.
We call ours Coalition for the Homeless.
Transients enjoy dinner, a Clint Eastwood movie,
and leave with scarves, socks, and loaves of bread.
They call theirs Famine-Relief Centers.
Refugees get de-wormed, rations for the 2-week walk
back home and seeds for planting.
Posted on her sedulous blog,
the plump bleached-lady complains.
Too many applications to fill out,
too many phone calls to return,
and fuel assistance is a bureaucratic nightmare.
But, her fluffy bleached-children win
scholarships to summer camp and the Y.
It's a full-time job being poor.
A black satin sleep mask
keeps her circadian clock in check
as the western world folds into foreclosure.
Send the kids to boarding school
and check into a homeless shelter
until the Affordable Housing application is approved.
If only those hungry Ethiopians had
the internet, they might learn something
about being poor.
Street-remnants bear forgotten scars,
childhood pox bubble into septic sores
beneath emaciated rags.
Clusters of flies dance in eye sockets
to black out sizzling shards of light.
Nature's sleeping mask.
Rejoice, it's summer camp all year round.
Ghostly orphans pile into sewer pipes
like a tribe of abandoned puppies,
nudging for an empty, withering teat,
as the night weeps a sad note
on a one-stringed African violin.
My Zen is in the slow swinging tops of sixteen pine trees.
One long thin pole of a tree fifty feet high swings in a wider arc than all the others and swings even when they are still.
Hundreds of little elms springing up out of the dry ground under the pines.
My watch lies among oak leaves. My tee shirt hangs on the barbed wire fence, and the wind sings in the bare wood.
—Thomas Merton, from When the Trees Say Nothing, ed. by Kathleen Deignan