Two Poems by Lucas Bailor


since this is poetry

i can acknowledge my weary hands

and weary eyes as the road peels off into oblivion, melting

into heat shimmer, the dome of the sky

too large for what i can imagine, the surrounding

dirt and signs of drought

oh they’ve been there for years

for years but yes

but yes the

the drought

drought it’s still happening

the inland suffering maintaining its presence

from fresno to bakersfield to san bernardino

haunted by the mojave

santa ana wind whines works on the nerves

scream prickly dread

here is the last stop for all those who come from somewhere else

and the spaces between

bleak bleak bleak

dry and endless

in the shadow of something larger


the state seemingly shrinks

formed by the discourse of disdain

and a giving up


1. having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order

2. having given up all hope; despairing

with a rake and a mask

still twitching

debris of crumbing lives

throat ash lip crack skin blast

day burn sweat breath suffocation

wind whiplash


the sun still tearing through the window



congested and tired

this domed city sits

painted with whirlwinds of dust

and the sun beats itself into us

a lash after a lash after a lash

and to school i wear sunscreen

draped around my neck

pooling with sweat

into desert valley slime


i lie in bed, the sheets

draped over my legs

as the night’s warmth

cradles me to empty sleep, again)


two teenage boys climb down into the flood control with sharpie markers

and write the names of pretty girls in adolescent chicken scratched attempt

at graffiti.

other boys come past on bikes

and marvel at the masterpiece

of naiveté

and faux rebellion.

they know there’s nothing much else worth doing.


the middle schoolers look up to the burning mountain, ash

falling into their hair and between the sidewalk’s cracks, wondering

if they can get an ash day

to make up

for all those missed

snow days.


four friends hang out in the parking lot of the five dollar movie theater, the warm

june dark not permeating, not pulsing, just being

in the air

so when they leave, they leave

each window of the car open, the only

semblance of a breeze then running

its fingers through their hair and scalp.


and in my greatest moments of disdain,

my festering boredom blistered and calloused along

my heels, i look

back to the sun and moon – and

all the spaces between – to

uncover a summation of inland migration, to

find when the dirt and smog planted

eggs in our ancestor’s lungs, to

define our hacking cough

as something other, as

a distinct voice

carried by the santa ana winds.

Lucas Bailor is from Moreno Valley, California and is an incoming MFA candidate at UC San Diego. His long poem, Love’s Refrain, was published in Ghost City Press’ 2018 micro-chapbook summer series, and his poems have appeared in HVTN, SHARKPACK Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He occasionally tweets @lucasbailor. Website:

Image by Amayzun, found on Flickr:

#poetry #lucasbailor #summersadness #midsummer #southerncalifornia

59 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Dear readers and writers (especially those who contributed to Shut Down Strangers)— Just when I think I’ve finally caught up with mailing out back orders and contributor copies, there's yet another hi