California by Halee Kirkwood
The place that fills
your plastic bag lungs with
trinkets and promises and ripe orange slices,
citrus stinging the cuts you got in Wisconsin
if only to remind you that you've got to go back
The place where you build more empathy for the homeless
than the year you lived in a van, than the months spent
in a homeless shelter where
a little boy named Ray-Ray
took daily shits in the bathtub.
The place where you search for specifics
behind eucalyptus trees.
The place that reassures that
cliques are a-ok,
that cheap love isn't found
beneath the waves.
The place beneath a jealous moon where
you wed the Pacific,
the salt on your tongue
reminding you of the cuts,
imploring you to stay as
your plastic bag lungs stick to your ribs and