At Torrey Pines, hikers believe Earth’s
false modesty is not for them. The current
warmly shoulders waters from Siberia.
Winkles in low tide and old couples brave
Santa Ana winds; each with their share
of pure velocity. A harlequin bug, surviving
its mistakes, has got a job to do amidst
the pickleweed. He ambles by a bobcat
den, three kittens and his scheduled
disappointment with aplomb. So well, in
fact, a scrub jay (whose cause is her companion)
proves our scent can lift for death’s
descent as well as love. He’s eaten;
his fatal hour breaks; the foam beneath
its froth sweeps him away. The evergreens
are emptied of their shivers, paralyzed
with fear of briny engineered enigmas.
The old couples and towhees seize the day,
delight in being free to roam its cloudy
cage. A gopher hides beneath a picnic table
from the end of the world: the Manzanita’s
pair of mating rattlesnakes. What could
have been a defining moment to the gopher
defines nothing to the skink inside
a kingsnake. The old couples pull away
from the antisocial nightmares on the tide,
its steady diet of high-fives. A gibbous moon,
for lethal meditation, rises over I-5 and
the lagoon’s medicated trees pointing back.
Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Poems of Jake’s are in The Brooklyn Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).
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