"Meditations on a Skinny City" by jen westhale


Spork's Poetry
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"Meditations on a Skinny City" by jen westhale


Meditations on a Skinny City

Most evenings, there are two battling war zones between
celestial and terrestrial, not much difference between
artificial lights
and the southern constellations we never see but count on
big Buddha crickets

Broken boots longcitywalk type of hydrophobia:
Rain disgusted by car grease but streets
revel in rivalry, pulling tricks through woodgrain
bubbled piers warped with ice cream stick and grit
where I found god sweltered in the dumbwaiter of a man who stabbed himself in the heart, twice.

It's fall and the only thing that reminds me that it's
spring in California
is that these skinny streets are piqued marzipan,
aren't carrying yolo county sweet to putah creek on the
side saddle of golden carp.
wheezing ink wishes onto skeletal leaves
won't put them in the Humboldt current
and take them to Arcata,
nor will it invoke seasons snow globe,
nor will it paper this town pigeoned, palomaed.

In the City, it is important to detach
oneself as though manipulating gunfire from the top
of a very large precipice
that way you are not next generations yourfathermother but
an individual

In Santiago, salt can be located on
the western lip of the provinces
but Zapallar is sea pains away,
locked in gut rot of hydrophobia,
Hydrophobia is a wet repellent but nothing compared
to waking in insomnia green jasmine tea over steeped
haze to see the fog digesting the buildings

Winter is a sleeping knife in bone marrow,
Beasted abrasively in the teeth of my morning foot arch.
The cordillera is so pretty that
I want to pronounce it without the stain of soft
California 't'
(it could be such fun if you knew a winter sport, and not just the cop out
of butternut squash soup)

It's March no, April
it's been almost 10 months since the scare of the
rotten faced welcome man who lent you 20
pesos and then took 40,000,
that dirty rat.

I hardly remember my first day
but more aluminum cartel:
heart humming metro, choosing you (I'm not sorry),
stone faced courtyard
REM cycle working on hemispherical tom foolishness
Oriente purple balcony snapdragons with their genitals hanging out,
sticky pistons, tongues lapping up theology,
opus dei is like a paint chip you never want to put in your pocket,
never plant or push those habited daisies.

(the words 'sane'and 'not so' are so regulated and relative that
they numb up in meaning)

Besides, you are a City,
synonymous with Great Recreational Anatomy or
even, Civil War
(La Casa de Pinochet or the black gapping bomb mouths from Tina
Rosenberg novels,
I'm not pretending that my own country isn't just one goddamn
ballad of skeletons)

City, you don't understand that you
are a creation of my own somnambulance
therefore I don't find you sacred when rain leaks in my holey shoes
or that holy Sundays are tea days because
I'm not catholic.

In fact I dreamt you up, make believe anatomic corpus:

you are a spider.

So the first time my olfactory glands
connected a dry kiss and the
scarf smell of wool, I was in
your provedencia arms with blood in my cheeks,
the first worry of starvation in your white zone gut belly
same that houses the sharp hipped geometric sex workers,
flat-landed into dimension,
who may or may not share
my hungry concerns

Eight legs, you urban arachnid
(seven if you don't count kissing which I certainly do)

One leg for the climbed old woman
hand trees by Alameda the night
you tried to walk out instead of inhabit your clefted skull
and tore up leaves and dropped ashes on
better pedestrians

One to the unconquerable raccoon river
(I am north American stereotype numero zip zipzah,
Reigning exploration on your collective black boughs)
that runs through your backyard, so far east it isn't in the city at all

One to that café I can't ever remember except for the biting ginger on
my Pavolovian bicuspids, where I
swore you were the most beautiful image of
awe to ever follow a turkey sandwich.

One to the orange walls in Lo Espejo where
we are all gorgeous losers.

One to the night I walked home solita from
Los Heroes, black Maybelline scars one
thousand pesos for a hitched ride on circus bicycle handlebars
after a moment of cousinly eccentricity and
a dinner invite with the woman who sells light switches
I was preddy
on divorced whiskey, ready to go mad with joy from empty streets
and 20 pesos to last until December,
which is when I stopped drinking the first time

One to the street that pretends to be England, showcasing
Books as Artifacts and the Cartoon monster Ivy League building

Last leg to Santa Isabel number 1210,
where I wanted to know what my mother was like to
better understand why I always leave.
why i am leaping over this city scape, full-trained. choo chooed and smashing pennies flat.

this spider falls off a very long tin railway,
poorly made stuccattoed rusted spinal
column called foundation
bloats in puddles and distills to skinny memory
steaming into station, brickred and gills billowed
carrying cargo of so many open suitcases.


jen westhale is a poet and activist with a weakness for botany and hot air balloons. in
2004 she won the Redwood Rainbow Literary Award for Prose. In August 2010, she was
invited to participate in and publish with InterDisciplinary's International Conference on
Performance Theory in Prague with her article "Entrails and the Bedroom: Sexual and
Geographical Borderlands in Queer Bodies". She is a graduate of Mills College and is
currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing at California College of the Arts. She
lives and writes in an attic in Alameda with her two cats, z and blue.