by Laura Jo Hess

            I spent dawn
in a palm tree
stroking down fronds
dipping my feet in copper         like Cleopatra
unrolled at the castle        [to meld in bronze
keep the nose whole
let it breathe]
you’re on the docks &
when the summer comes                  I promise
not to stay in the alleyways
in the sand the suburbs
where the babies run

do you hear?

I swear you not in Paris
in Puerto Rico         the mid-Atlantic            the funeral home
the paper store, pal          I’ll buy you a bird

and a banana and we can sit
where the sun goes in squares
when the night
comes or stays and don’t lets
be frightened
of sound.

I try again:
I forged the pathway up
through the sand and cobble        you in tennis shoes
beaming up the concrete
I, an animal, panting.

You in the audience clapping fingers
encore! encore!
so I recite
the alphabet and juggle handkerchiefs
take a tally of scars & stories
find an old passport picture          & burn it

it was Barcelona              & we were browned skin
in white tee shirts—matching convicts
in a photo booth              didn’t have change
waddled in the bike lane to the embassy

please, sir, some water?

who wants to be noticed anyways?
and in love
in the hotel room, the café, the theater
the window          the city (or four)
the post office, beach town,
highway               this way

don’t you feel it


hess2Laura Jo Hess is from St. Louis, Missouri and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is an MFA candidate at The New School and her work has been published in the Margie Review, White Whale Review, and Blue Mesa Review, among others. She works in the Writing Center at Juilliard and hears beautiful music all day long.

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