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In the Belly of California's Central Valley by Cecil Morris

In the flat and dusty nowhere

between two glorious somewheres,

dust lacquered our shoes, conditioned our hair,

desiccated the skin we showed the sun.

We wanted hills and fog, city noise,

the wilder girls that scared us along Haight

and the green meadows of the park where

forbidden things happened in cool daylight.

At home our freckles bloomed more freckles. We sweat

through shifts washing golf carts, dishes, bathrooms—always

invisible—mowing lawns, weeding, pumping gas,

or stealing hard green plums to pelt each other

on dark streets when the heat's slap

felt a little less like punishment for dreamt sins.

Some nights we jumped fences and dove into city pools,

petty dust-mote delinquents. We sat, shadows

in shadows. We drank warm beers and wished

someone would take us water-skiing at Folsom,

wished winter would come, to cut school and bum rides

up the mountain to catch first powder and carve

our names down the sea-white peaks we would see rising

if rain would come to dampen the dust of our brown hills.


Cecil Morris live in Roseville, California, where he taught high school English for 37 years. In his retirement, he has turned his attention to writing what he once taught students to understand and (maybe) enjoy. He has poems appearing in 2River View, Cobalt Review, Evening Street Review, Hole in the Head Review, Midwest Quarterly, Poem, Talking River Review, and other literary magazines. He like ice cream too much and cruciferous vegetables too little for his own good.


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