Shadow Rock Road


I drummed the pencil eraser to my lips
bit down on the metal fastener
and let the words drift
to the upside down sea
the cool grass pressing into my back
swaddled in thorns of desert pulp
tracing endless horizons
housing mountains and mules
moles and music

I swung near a pomegranate tree
under the shadow of rocks
gripping the green trunk of a palo verde
waiting for the bitter fruit to ripen
for the seeds to swell in a cocoon of nectar
the tart and bloody rush to dribble down my chin
a savage creature
inviting words to swarm like bees
quickly suppressed
the lead still sharpened
my tongue bitter with metallic breath
the air thick with the sigh of creosote

I heard the slight thud of a story
and leapt to nurse a baby quail
gravity’s sacrifice
the shattered malt colored remains
already a swallow in earthly dust
crunching under my feet
the sound of morning cereal chewed with closed lips
echoing in my head
a stiff welcome to the world
its frail body overcome with fear
shaking life out, releasing itself from its feathered cage
I assured the creature
gravity hadn’t hardened my soul
like the soil that broke its home
but it was a poem that sailed into the ether
and I was shaking too

At night
I lay with the days
on the road I grew up on
dreaming back those words
thoughts sung like songbirds

In dreams they soar
and I am brave
In dreams I taste the ripe fruit
and remember the burst of flavor
In dreams the baby quail lived
and spread its wings, lacing clouds with music

So many roads I have taken since

-S S Hicks


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