Poetry, by Red Washburn

Driftwood

she looks into her eyes like driftwood
sandy brown upturned golden hazel 
tucked in life of seaweed and shells 
bobbed and basked
dipped and flipped
in the calm-in
lies the speckle that never dries

Photo by Brian Philip Katz

Dogwood


She started looking up Maple’s skirts that summer. She would hit the ground without looking like collapsing in bed with whiskey on her breath. She would trace branches with her hazel eyes like connecting zit scars up her small back. She would soar through to the open blue like bumblebees through beard clouds. She would block out words for chirps with her long, dark hair shielding vision like a sun sheet. She would feel grounded with her chest to the petal stank above for the first time since she started dirt-hugging the layers that separated those who could trim nails from those who could not. She would let her litanies of questions drift like womyn’s voices in the quietest woods. She learned how to breathe, inhaling so her shoulder blades shifted the dusty earth into the slow blow. She now has detached under Dogwood’s denim cuffs, a billet-doux with a whipple.

Trolley

she awakes to tears
piggy toe prints on freckled faces
with chin hair stragglers  
pulled to, getting to, all too pissy
dry done dreams
lucid like those whose lips 
close around cans,
the ascent to scent.

her hands over her ears 
like spaghetti can-cans
strung to doors
catholic smothering 
moans that remind
the disproved hypothesis 
of soda can theory in pew communities,
year after fucking year.

her arms 
propped up on a tree  
stump, tabling the
plaid picnics of peanut 
butter to the black 
anorexic of the forest
shadows, never to be ghosted,
like the way she sat 
cross-legged, scanning
flower catalogues, 
her index finger turning purple, 
a mind-wrinkled kiddie widdie. 

her thumb crushed under a trolley--
on Christopher St. 
the village
then inhabited by the Irish, the poor, 
the 1930s
long before the beats, the queers, the rich war--
the thumb got damaged when it wasn’t in her mouth.
it always affected her thereafter, 
donkey tail, thumb resting
the after in all the typists with arthritis 
her stroke face, commanding the
pinky to (the) point. 
her long, slender fingers
fighting for words 

she lies there, 
naked winter--
cry-breathe-ing 
into
wet cat bellies
belly button ding dongs
cheeks 
that burrow
between 
breasts,
naked winter--
she lies there.

she draws--
penciling in her brown eyebrows in the dirt 
the vacant lot, squatted by 
heroin-heads in salvation army drop-offs, alone a 
corporeal comma wrapping halos
around her willow tree, atop
the grass, 
the cross, 
the INRI fingers
combed through corn hair
bright night moon
following the circle, singing the solo, sucking the thumb, resting the index on the nose--
about the kleenex fights that fossilize 
the brown rainbow, of 
death and its discontents