I wanted to never feel hurt again
so I attached a leash to a dog I borrowed
for a controlled walk through a hot February in LA.
We counted the thorns on a derosed vines
and blew the feathers from a dandelion,
making empty wishes. Until we found the spot
on the cement where I once fell headfirst
off my skateboard, plunging into some strangers
brown grass of drought, where I lay
for a second thankful for helmets
only to find my board had gotten caught
under bird poop tree, where my body lay
next to the white dotted cement
not quite able to stand. I remember
the imprint of my body marked in the grass
I remember standing up a few moments later,
I remember thinking:
this is the kind of pain I can handle.
4,964 miles West of Hogwarts
Shovel a ditch through the runny
reservoir my gloves in the hard dirt
of a former basketball
This is the only thing
that makes me feel human
earthen gunk in my nails
jeans that smell like chicken
the kind in the garden, in the cage
where the dogs stopped barking a while back
where my daughter carries some sort of stick
and points its tip at me through window
a bird feeder on a tree on my tree on oranges
on unripe avocado on a greywater system
on our trailer.
When it is Winter,
and the weather becomes Seattle,
my girl inside watching movies, and I drink green tea
doubling the dose of pills
to address the absence of nothing
of the nothing that
I find in something, in the something that
is our home, I sit and watch the glass door
of the washing machine, the clothes
that beat its surface, the noise of characters
in a background, in my background, and I sit.
And I sit and wait for it to pass.
The tone of the season, the tone
of my brain. To find the something in
the way the gophers eat my tomatoes,
so I can but plant them again.
On the fifth day
Cori Bratby-Rudd is a queer LA-based writer, poet, and co-founder of Influx Collectiv(e)’s Queer Poetry Reading Series. She graduated Cum Laude from UCLA’s Gender Studies department, and is a current MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts. She has been published in Ms. Magazine, The Gordian Review, Califragile, PANK Magazine, Entropy, Crab Fat Magazine, Impossible Archetype, among others. She recently won the Editorial Choice Award for her research paper in Audeamus Academic Journal and was nominated as one of Lambda Literary’s 2018 Emerging Writers. You can find her at coribratbyrudd.com.