Stoop to Conquer

The door opens,
the suburb streets empty except
for something in the trees
watching like a jungle cat;
the leaves hiss,
the breeze tumbles through
like a wave pool kicking up
squealing children.
A long loud hushing –
the ocean’s constant
crashing: I run like prey
programmed to think it can live.

Silence is what separates;
silence is mistaken
for ignorance and
ignorance will make you bite your tongue
like it sinned with the rest
of your body.

Listen when I tell you
god is a troubled couple
redecorating their home.
I have their picture hanging
on the wall like American Gothic.
He has the face of failure; she,
the face of dependence.
We are in the other room giggling,
moving pawns on a board game
we forget we’re playing.
He picks at them
like a label on a beer can
and she puts them back.

I remember my piece now:
the mindless coal miner picking
at the void, living like it lost someone yesterday –
karma coming back like cicadas and I’m running
down the street.

– Long Beach, CA

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Taken in Long Beach, CA