Issue Two


I spend the morning as mornings are spent

What is it to want without thought

Wash the grains of rice, scrub cheeks

Am I breathing yes

Cut up fruit on a plate

Dream of hiking down a cool mountainside alone

AQI a bruise darkening

Eat the zucchini, leftover cake

Hot wind surging through chaparral

The child excavates red earth on his screen

A diamond pick-axe a burning eye rinse

Scrub off the old day sweep crumbs all this mess

Yes it’s heavy the air

Try again to sit spills or spells

Who arranged those dead flowers for the still life

Who harvested my smeary phone hot vibrating on hip

Scroll again

Oil prices high the market swerves tilts recovers

Plastic mommy brain and microscopic mites

Lungs out of season, a spot of blood

Shallow breath backward into tight spine, out, out

Almost out of juice, milk

Damp towels stanch windows and doors

Drink the melting glacier water river water drying up

Swift spiral of ash downwind

Thick and raspy this breath

A little go bag by the door


I woke up, read some words on a screen inside a room. That was my life. Other things moving in the background, but the words on the screen demanded something. Money, a prayer, rage. White blouse, sweat in a trickle down the back. Every day the brush waits to burn. 

I put my ear to the ground. Hand on my heart. Closed my eyes, switched on a light. I began with a color like rain. Listened for the plane scraping the sky again, the neighbor’s coarse shout. Murmurous noise of narrow street, numerous voices hovering near, humid thirst, was I an adult or a child? On the balcony watching below, pressed tight by strangers, at a streaming parade of ebullient color and shouts, sequins, time orchestrated to drumbeat rat-a-tats. The voices careened high, deeper, a lurid shriek here and there, laughter erupting, dissolved.

Who was I then, what did I know. Tiny blades of grass sticking to the shirt, streets orange with impending storm. Began another sentence. You were talking to me there. What do you remember, what did you love? Life, which is the tilting of the branch, a rustling, some color leaping. Something wanted more of me. A green skirt with silver buttons down the front, unbuttoned one by one.

In the words I read there were street-corners alive with starry drones. My mouth smears up the sounds. He would live against sentences, went the line.

About Margaret Ronda
Margaret Ronda is the author of two books of poems, For Hunger (2018) and Personification (2010), both published by Saturnalia Books. Her poems have recently appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, VOLT, Columbia Poetry Review, and Gulf Coast. She teaches at the University of California-Davis.