Subtropical Botany in Four Acts

Marine I

Anna spent her childhood summers seduced by this coast where giant kelp floats, bursts a sea spit polish across her jejune toes, and sweeps back, then dives to veil a coral bride whose secret bottom feeders drop plankton petals no one will ever witness. Anna plays hopscotch on them with tactile satisfaction while her grandparents call her to the towel.  “Stay dry,” says Papa, “or you’ll catch something.”


K. Beharensis stands tall in the yards of Normal Heights, tactile stress-limited defenses a break-away stem and brunette fuzz, dusted in bleaching sun and Hadley cell salt, but shorter than the vented barrel tangles on her vanity or discarded knots rooted firmly in her bedroom saxony. Barely more than stubble, really. There’s some subtle irony here – a playful resistance in the fibers of its leaves and stem (you know, “look, I’m succulent but don’t eat me”).

It can’t survive Kentucky winters.

“What’s Kalanchoe” she considers, “and can I feel good against its stem?”

Marine II

Voyeur cancers watch nubile first dances, grins, and sweating champagne glasses under paper lamps’ dim light on the beach. Wedding receptions. Sandals. Dresses.
Sand crawls into blisters on their feet – hallux, rings, and babies. The honeymoon flight back is too soon. Our roots belong in Pacific lawns, kelp on Pacific shores. Our fruit belongs on Pacific limbs, between legs in the tactile whet of the wake of Pacific tides. Home is a warm, moist harbor between your peninsulas, my beautiful, darling




This is my last letter. This fragrance is bergamot. Eight weeks in the laundry to make enough to buy it. Anyway, I miss you so.
I’ve decided to rot near Tijuana, where you played as a child, where you fought your sensibility and married me, where we last swam, where it happened, where you sleep. Not here in a fruitless bluegrass. I’m writing my appeal this Wednesday while I’m in the library.

I’ve also requested a transfer there. I’ll meet with the warden on the first of August.

If I’m released, I’ll turn over every green blade in this state for an orchard or vineyard on Coronado among the dates, figs, and citrus, away from mayflies and cicadas latching to the roots and shade-spilling Kentucky sons of birches.

If they transfer or deny me, I’ll drown myself in a bergamot-masked toilet here or there.
Either way, it has to happen now. Out of the river. Out of the dirt. I’ll be with you soon.

Forever yours,

P.S. – Please forgive me for never saying how I felt and never helping with the landscape.