Soot and tears
burn the eyes.
People move as though
their flipflops keep
sticking to the tarmac.
Flakes fall from
dying trees. Not birds—
those were starved and eaten
Outdoors is hell
but since the A/C’s gone,
indoors is hell’s
pretty shifts melted on their hangers.
A man living in the condo opposite
takes walks down C then to his
mailbox. He tilts, this man does,
forward as he walks, elbows squeeze his
sides, forearms dangle. He walks as though
leaning into wind, as though he needs a closer look.
He walks this way year-round.
I see him daily, sometimes twice, outside
both my windows. I don’t like him.
I lower the blinds. He’s a potent,
broken thing. He’s like windshields
chipped by winter gravel, biding time
before they spiderweb and block one’s view.
Santa Ana Susana
we’d squat around a wad of
LA Times and Herald Examiner
taking turns with
grapefruit wide, black handled—
summer sun would
send a twist of smoke,
pinpoint hole, tobacco stain,
finally, a flame. We’d
cheer and douse it with the hose.
September brought magnifying
dust and newsprint on the pavements,
One night we stood along the
backyard fence watching
Santa Susana Mountains
burn along their crests.
We packed suitcases,
corralled our cats, stayed up
with the TV news.
At one am wind changed, mountains cooled.
The fire turned to threaten someone else.
Author Bio: Jill Dery has published stories in Bellingham Review, Fourteen Hills, and others; she has a nonfiction piece forthcoming in Fifth Wednesday. She’s published poetry in Antiphon, Bracken, ELJ, Temenos, Noctua Review, pacificReview and others, with poems forthcoming in Split Rock, Cape Rock, and Medusa’s Laugh Press. Her MFA in poetry is from UC Irvine. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she lives in Anchorage, AK.