On July Fourth, the Day After We Learned of Our Daughter, We Went to Joshua Tree
an abecedarian// for Fritz
Arriving in the desert is homecoming: hot sky sticky thick with July,
brown dirt caking my teal sneakers, my white dress dirty, and you
calm as this secret between us, the start of something, cells
dividing, multiplying. There is only us but really
even now there is the promise of someone else. Husband: today I
feed you sliced meats and cheeses, fruit spreads, savory-sweet. I
guide your hand to another glass of whiskey. You look away.
Heaven: this is the closest thing we have to it.
In the cover of the desert trees I undress
just to see you blush. You take my photo,
kiss my flat stomach my breasts not yet full. You
like the way the sun frames my shoulder,
makes my black hair look fire-red. Here, I feel the desperate
need to be naked, to watch fireworks from Twentynine Palms
over your linened shoulder, my hand on your head; feel
pure, hot breezes lick my hips, that
queer sensation of grit on the backs of my calves.
Red/blue/white lights the sky. My
skin hot and damp in a jumble on your lap.
The freedom of drinking and eating and fucking
under the setting summer sun— the only true freedom, the
vicious black night sky.
We are in this moment in my head forever, an
x-ray of our souls entwined, heavy and satisfied, happy.
You rest your head on my navel, sigh. Look at these stars, a blanket of them.
Zillions of stars. The sky could just swallow you whole.
Poem for Sheila Keefe
For Callie T.
No one ever breaks down the good of you,
childlike laugh and merriment pasta with white sauce,
cake cut into twelve perfect slices
They never say how beautiful you look in candlelight
or how you need to be held at night how you feel love’s weight
like a tower falling, all the time
Instead, they reduce you to tanned ass and tits,
browned skin against fuchsia sand on an Atlantic beach
and they make you crazy and call you crazy and drive you crazy, like
how there’s a certain kind of wonderment in the New York cold—
you can almost forget the fires that licked the ocean
that licked your feet that licked your even, whalebone teeth
Remember, Sheila, in your French maid costume, in your
red wine cups times twenty, in your mourning veil
remember your legs hung hard around his hips, his narrow ass
remember when you said floor by floor, you disappeared
collapsing over and over, a thousand times, remember Sheila,
how you said even as you begged him to stay with you
how you said you didn’t know how to tell him
how you said please don’t leave me, I love you
remember, Sheila, you said
I think sometimes Tommy wishes he had died in Jimmy’s place
and you paused, your hand gesturing over that part of your breast where your heart is
you paused and you said and so do I
Kolleen Carney Hoepfner's poetry and other writings can be found in Rabid Oak, Memoirs Mixtape, Glass, Occulum, and elsewhere. Kolleen serves as Editor in Chief of Drunk Monkeys, and is the Managing Editor and Social Media Coordinator for Zoetic Press. She is the author of Your Hand Has Fixed the Firmament (Grey Book Press) and A Live Thing, Clinging with Many Teeth (Spooky Girlfriend Press). Her main goal in life is to have Alec Baldwin smile at her. She lives in Burbank, California, with her husband and children.
Facebook: Kolleen Carney Hoepfner