Dust in Her Hair

For my mother

Dust in her eyes
in the crevices of a packed
pickup truck, drives
cross country through
the lonely roads

A marriage behind her, she
sinks her feet into California sand
salt water, the silt of mud bath

Works odd jobs, moves
eleven times in the first year
dreams of coasts she is learning
to name, studies maps and
recipes, drives stick shift
and pinches spices

She will teach her mouth
a new way to move, find a language
she doesn’t yet know, she will
fly across both oceans
island, peninsula, mountain

She sweeps the floor tonight
scrubs the windows, and dusts
a family portrait in Spain
snapshot of her elopement in Jamaica
paper birds she folded in Japan

Her bags packed, for the day after
tomorrow, when she travels to
the Colorado, hikes down the canyon
dust on her boots, dust in her hair

A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee, Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English-speaking poet from Long Beach, California. Disabled with scoliosis from a young age, her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms. Author of Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) and founder of the micro-press BindYourOwnBooks, Kelsey’s poems appear in petrichor, Cholla Needles, Rise Up Review, Right Hand Pointing, Redshift, and Making Up, a Picture Show Press anthology. Writing towards her new title, Here Go the Knives, find her at https://kelseybryanzwick.wixsite.com/poetry.

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Party Game Questions

Anytime in history they said,
            sparking a montage
fit
                        for an indie movie

 
                                    of us:

 
the midnight viewing of A Hard Day’s Night
            that exploded
                        into a water balloon crusade
that made it all the way to 102nd st.

 
                        Melting a dozen candles
                                    on the coffee table
            to make our own unlightable Jabba-like mound.

 

The sliver of your profile as you turn
            to kiss me

            goodnight,

 
                                    backlit

only by the city nightlight that trickles in through cracks in curtains.

 
 

Yes

 
            that’s the one.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically, and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.

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Fragments of Seattle

Droplets fall on the paling petals
of cherry blossoms just past their bright pink
phase, when their fingers are soft
and ours intertwine gloveless.

***

The sidewalk is potentially slick
so I proffer my arm and you take it.

***

The evenings get chilly, peppermints
enhance the evening tongue’s tingle.

Laughter is warming, and we feel
like dragons pluming smoke.

***

Waiting for a bus, the streetlight
looks like a halo around your knit cap.

***

We all know refraction causes
the rainbows which dash across the ice
scuttled mid-puddle, but I still point
and as you turn to look, sneak a kiss.

***

The chill of your cheek,
the pinkened, coy smile.

We are dragons exhaling—
we burn the frostbitten evening.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically, and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.

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A Piece of Americana

It pulls you away from that IMAX world
with such conviction that you actually believe
you’re back home, but really
you’re still in Disneyland—well,
California Adventure, the neighbor park—
and you can still smell the oranges hovering
unseen, waiting to be plucked by the next group.
Leaving Soarin’s theater, for some reason
you wished it was dark, lamenting the sunlight
you knew awaited us outside.
But time has a way of speeding up
when you don’t want it to,
like oncoming traffic during an illegal U-turn—
and slowing down while standing in line for excitement,
to the point you could swear the last time
you checked the time it was five minutes later,
and you were by Howard Hughes’ portrait,
and now you’re back at the Spruce Goose
which precedes its kooky creator,
but every once in a while, when you leave
your watch spun on your wrist at your side,
the world speeds its orbit as you wish,
and you step out of the attraction
into the sky in the middle of its shift
from sky to navy, somewhere around cobalt,
and you feel like you’re back at the county fair
with your wife who’s still just your best gal,
and after the roller coaster
you know there’s a plate begging
to be busted by baseball,
and a slice of stuffed Americana
to be won and carried around under the stars—
to be set on the bench next to you
for a slow, tongueless kiss that springs pink
in your cheeks that lasts for hours.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically, and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.

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The Funeral Episode

During the pauses you could hear sniffles,
            people blowing their noses quietly.
Then, there was a miscue in the music.
If it had been a sitcom funeral episode,
            Uncle Joey would try to rush over
            at the same time as the priest,
            they’d collide, the priest would grab
            the coffin handle as he fell, tipping it over.

            All the aunties and nieces would be screaming
            as Grandma Ellen fell out and Uncle Steve
            would jump up, run over, catch Grandma Ellen
            and spinning around as he sidestepped the falling
            coffin, they would be dancing for three beats
            along with “I Can See Clearly Now,”
            which was meant to be an ‘upper’ at the end
            of the service, and was playing instead of
            “It’s a Wonderful World.”

But it wasn’t.
The funeral home director strode down the aisle
            and skipped tracks on the CD.
Then there was more sniffling and nose blowing.
My brother and I sat silent.

Grandma Ellen’s time and hugs
            and Christmas sugar cookies shaped like Santa Claus
            went to her good Christian grandkids,
            not the leather jacket wearing, heavy metal listening
            heathens, that she could never forgive our mother
            for allowing us to become.
Mom had her head on Aunt Jan’s shoulder,
            not sniffling, but loudly sobbing.
I didn’t want to think about that,
            so I drifted back into the sitcom.

Uncle Steve would realize he was dancing
            with Grandma Ellen, and throw his hands up
            in the typical, “I’m innocent” sort of way,
            dropping Grandma Ellen onto the cart
            that was supposed to wheel the coffin out afterwards.

            The cart would roll out the open side door
            and run furiously into the railing, flipping
            poor Grandma Ellen into the road.
They would cut away for that—a slow motion shot
            of Grandma Ellen, suddenly looking a little surprised,
            as if her makeup had shifted in the melee,
            flying right into oncoming traffic. Something funny
            would have to be the one that hits her,
            like, a truck carrying helmets, or angel food cake,
            yeah, it would have to be an angel food cake truck.
They wouldn’t show the messy scene,
            but it would go immediately to the dining room
            of the nice downtown condo, the younger adult ‘kids’
            sitting around, drinking imported coffee and someone—
            the token cynical cousin, would say something snide
            like “At least she got some cake.”
And the laugh track would sound.
And everyone would be happy before the credits roll.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically, and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.

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Fences, Fall, Winter

They built fences for all sorts of neighborly reasons
and every day we found new ways to climb them,
flip them like foosball players and in manners
successful and less so. To make useless their boundary
pillars of uneven oak or callously uniform
steel that meshed its way between grey pole palings.
All across the grid of sidewalk-less suburban
streets the multitude of greens slowly transmuted
toward gold whether through scarlet or a pale pear
bluffing the fall air with its mock adolescence.
Grass moldered under neglected heaps of leaves
raked and abandoned unbagged, it patched elsewhere
like inevitable mange under the bursts of sugar maple
impressionism burning so crimson their leaves crisp
brown before they drop slow as their khaki helicopter
seed pods. Some folks built higher fences, some
of us were forced to grow up faster than others.
Trees were trimmed to protect power lines and toddlers,
rooftops that were left blanketed in snow beavered up
ice dams that leaked into the thin layer of scratchy cotton
candy insulation sandwiched loosely between drywall
and plywood, yet another space between one place
and the other that was all too permeable.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically, and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.

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In the Butterfly Atrium at Callaway Gardens

Canopy of tropical trees around a central water garden,
here where blessings razzle and dip, one floats down
my sleeve, lights on the heel of my palm, flutters a song
in a silent voice, while others land around me, quietly
drinking the brightness of flowers. Many more float up
looking like tiny flying wishes reaching for the blue sky
beyond the ceiling’s glass. Time caught here in a dream.

In the hallway outside, rows of chrysalides are in glass
cabinets, telling us joy does not happen until it happens.

Steven Croft is a US Army veteran who now lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He has recent work in Sky Island Journal, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, San Pedro River Review, and other places.

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