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Long Beach, CA

Poetry Blog

Circle of Life

Brandon Cook

Wherever you go, in this sun-blessed land
It’s hard to slip from the grip of highway
That droning sound
Crescendos with the sun, on either side,
Then dips down, but never slides completely,
Into sweet silence

You forget about it
The brain is adept at hearing
Only what it wants to hear
(Unless it’s the toll of water dripping,
But the pipes are good here)

At night, the jackals come
There are no fences that can hold them
And, like devils,
They know the time for feeding
“So you make sure you take your cat inside,” The Barsches said, when we moved in
Bringing us delicious pie
And of course, their own cat had died
And how Mrs. Barsch must have cried

We’re not that much more civilized than they are—
The jackals, not the Barsches--
But they still eat
Whatever’s meet to feed on
And disappear into the sky

So while the highway clings to earth
And cars cling with rubber teeth
To their lanes, within their yellow lines,
Blocks away the jackals come
On silent feet
To prey

And the girl next door
Opens her window
Glossed up, pristine
Young and sure
And slips into the darkness
Clutching at her purse
Some bright hope to pursue

I see her, in the oddest stroke of timing,
As I’m getting water from the tap
Sleepy eyed
In the hour of the jackals
At the low tide of the highway
At the hour of our clearest longing