by Danielle Mitchell
First Christmas in Long Beach
The first tower in the sand was decorated sad
with three and a half bags of tinsel, a fist of streamers,
too much rum and our leader, a bottle of red aloft
shouting save me now lifeguard, see if I care.
We carried sparklers across the dunes toward
the edge of light and passed the bottle, confessing.
I only saw the noise of her face as it announced
her invention of Never Again. Then she’d pour
a swing on the sand as prayer. In an hour, the night
went back into the city, bodies soaked. Making
her way up 4th Street, arms swinging tango rumba
tango rumba, her feet didn’t dance but the sidewalk
was a stage. Every flower leaned in from the orchestra
pit. This is the way we do it now. Feeling for the song
as if in our mouths there was a Braille for love slowly
pushed out by the blind, worried tongue.
Fragments of a Lover
We are headed east into
the desert again I watch
you gather your pantleg into the boot
lace and lace and lace up the ankle
you say where will you go?
I see a shanty of dairy cows a dozen
there are too many birds
and their names
I see empty horse corrals
you talk about the Improvised
Exploding Device. I can’t remember
your face only the boots and the highway.
I am not North you are not June
not the grey bird who is a siren
or before Beethoven’s Fifth
a tune to which we stop
under a tree and fit the incongruous plain
of your palm to my fist, there
on the edge of the desert and the dunes
before the Military Personnel Only sign this goodbye
we never had I say I will wait
I see it like a rewound tape:
I glass my fist into the break,
we nest first love before the brig
soon not too
met, I say
what is your name, bird
you say where have you been?
Danielle Mitchell’s poetry has appeared in print anthologies such as Pop Art (Moon Tide Press, 2010) and Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug (Tebot Bach, 2011) and magazines like dirtcakes, Re(verb), and Beggars & Cheeseburgers. She has worked for Write Bloody Publishing and Indelible Ink and served as associate editor of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Danielle is a participant in the 2011 Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Redlands and currently lives in Long Beach with her dog, Belladonna.