the birds of paradise are dead.

a touch would send them crumbling

to dust, leave

powder on my fingers

in my lungs, my ears,

settle in deep beneath my skin

to sit still and build up 

and grow thick as


the palm trees stand tall, too tall,

they can bend in the wind

testament to their roots

like the bridge over the 91 junction

can flex-over-sideways to the whims of the

san andreas, never crack,


but is she tired?


of waiting for a swiffer duster, the big one,

8.0 on the richter scale,

to leave her curled up on the bathroom floor

wondering if that little brown bottle would set her

free or earn her another sneer,

her skin and the peroxide 

too much– never quite enough


(roots wrap ‘round her wrists, her throat,

gouge where they plant down, inextricable, 

a seasonal malady like pollen sniffles or christmas)


and nothing has changed,

save the graying flowers and the

clipped heads of palm–

but roots are live wires, and you never saw

that I’m more brick than concrete;

this skin is a californian safety hazard

and my mortar is flaking thin