Ryan Tranquilla currently acts as a
full-time father for his 18-month-old daughter, as well as a part-time
arts consultant and grant writer with organizations such as Red Hen
Press and PEN USA. In February 2005 he left Poets & Writers, where he
served for over seven years, most recently as Director of California
Programs. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in the
Los Angeles Review and Spillway. He lives in the Mar Vista
neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Donít know what kind of fish I caught.
Small enough to fit in the plastic bag
that wrapped my sandwich. Papa takes
my picture, like the ones Iíve seen of men
on boats. See how my shadow is so thin,
taller even than me. Iíve never been on a boat.
Sometimes I imagine the pier freeing itself
with me and Papa on it, heading out
into the ocean. Sometimes under the pier
my feet sink into the mud and water splashes
up my pants. I try to lift the splintery
wooden pilings, move them from the ground.
On the way home I will take my pants off
in the back seat, rolling them carefully
for Mama to wash. She will shake her head
and send me to the bath. Iíll close my eyes
and dunk my head in the warm water, dreaming
about swimming in the sea.
Crossing the Lethe
Dark spring constructs itself from winterís
broken glass. Light alternates with golden shadow
through swaying branches, bark rough to the touch,
smell of loam. Jacaranda petals carpet your lawn.
What darkness? Black comfort sticky
as tar on the tongue, the insect throb
of nightís voraciousness. The room hums
with the quiet of old menís memories.
Your sidewalk blossoms with silver trails,
raccoons plucking fleshy snails from fragile shells.
From my pocket spill cobwebs,
pomegranate seeds, the tips of purple grasses.
Standing at your window, my open mouth
releases a dozen crows, wheeling
and disappearing into the dawn, speaking
their names for every season.