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).




Jake Sheff



February 2018

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