Two Poems by Wanda Deglane

June in Phoenix

here, ​there’s nothing to do but

​​ post videos of eggs frying

on sidewalks on twitter, ​ then smoke

​ in parking lots after midnight,

talking about futures we ​ have to pretend

​​ we have a chance of reaching.

here, ​​our favorite artists skip us

​ on their world tours because they figure

this place will be ​ uninhabitable

​ in a few years ​​ anyway.

the people in airplanes ​overhead

​ look down on us, little specks

in this endless light tan. ​ they see

​​ the cracked, bare riverbeds

and the vast nothing, ​​ and beg the pilots

​ to keep flying.

here, ​​ we pray only ​​ to the gods

​ of functional air conditioning​

​​​ and perpetual monsoons.

we swim in the freeways ​ on the day

​ the rain finally tries to smite us.

here, ​ we say our skin is tough​ like leather

​​ but even after decades,

there’s no way to get used to

this blast furnace weather, ​​ these triple degrees

​ mounting higher and higher every year.

here, ​​i massage the pads of

​ my dog’s feet​ and add

a dozen ice cubes. ​to her water dish. ​ she won’t

​​ jump in swimming pools

because she’s never seen ​ that much water

​ in her life.

here, i​​ squeeze myself into

​ tiny spaces so as to not make people

with can i speak to your manager haircuts ​

​​​​ uncomfortable.

here, ​​ a white girl tells me

​ we can’t be friends anymore because

she thinks ​ my bisexuality

​​​ somehow makes her fuckable.

here, ​ half the city weeps ​ for the families

​​ stumbling across barren desert,

throwing up​ blistered arms in surrender

​​​ just for the chance to survive.

we go to rallies in boiling june​​ and whisper

​ fuck trump ​​like a secret password.

the other half ​​ drives f-150’s and

​ dreams of towering walls and

waves flags in our faces​​ and tells me

to go back to a country​ i’ve never truly known

​​ for speaking a language they won’t admit

they’re afraid of.

here,​ we make our holy ​ pilgrimage ​ every year

​​ to the beaches in california.​​ we watch

the blue stretch back ​​farther than our minds

​ can fathom. ​ my brother tells me

he thinks the sea ​​has healing powers.

this year, he brings ​ a sprained wrist

​ healed wrong as his offering.

it’s silly, but ​ i believe him wholeheartedly.

​ i offer up​​ my whole body,

tell the ocean i​​ have too many

​ ailments to name, ​​ and then

let it take all of me​​ without fighting back.

Prayer of the Bittersweet and Slowly Burning

i saw the last of the sun the other night​​ when he crept

into my window,

​​ bleeding crushed gold and vomiting apricots,

​ and he told me it’s too late for him

but maybe not for me.

i hear your name breathed from the sea shells

​​ on a beach 5 hours south,​ like a sickened, half-

drowned secret

on a too-sticky day. ​ ​your name is sung from the


chiming together like bells, ​​​ but i’ve

stepped on far too many ​ glass chunks and boiling

hot rocks

to give it much thought anymore.

i tell my therapist i’ve stopped dreaming, ​maybe for her

slow, relieved smile,

for the dosage decrease, for the peace of mind. ​​like

fool’s gold.

the truth is: ​i dream of lagoons ​ and crescent


and the frosting of a poisoned cake, given to my dog,

his glazed-over eyes, days later, ​​like a rotted fish.

the truth is:

i dream of flying ​ and trying to escape a doorless room,

digging my fingernails

into its dead walls ​​ and being held down by knife-


​ the truth is: ​i spent all night digging holes

in my backyard​​ until i found a river filled with oil

and soured corpses ​​​ and i drowned december in it

​ with colorless pity,​ and buried the rest of his bones.

the truth is:

he still comes back​​​ to haunt me, ​speaking in

that beautiful soft-speak until ​​ i pry loose my skin.

here is a sequence of half-eaten thoughts: ​​ the skinny


​of the keys, ​ surrounded by endless sea on both sides.

​​ how i wished to swallow it before

it got the chance to swallow me. ​​the bear in a zoo in


​spilled like a bad taste, ​​his foot propped against

the window.

how soft and miserable it must be​​ to sink deep in his


​​to drown in it.​​ the yellow breeze of almost-


my eyes, red and so sorry. ​​​ the unconquerable


​the unprecedented calm.

here is venus, newly formed.​​ here is eve’s apple, its


​ sprouting​ whole planets. ​ here is the slow birth of


​​here is the taste of mermaids’ tails, of

​​​​ their suffered sacrifice.

here is the blazing monsoon ​​ that taught me to howl

and punch

​​ before lying down to die.

here is a prayer, so starved,

dipped in melted chocolate and please please please:

let me come home​​ before the golden hour.

​ let me look into your​​ hungry eyes

​​ and feed you the blood. ​of my fists.

let me dive deep into my skin​​ and stitch together

​ my constellations ​of scrapes and bruises.

​​let me fall in love​ with my own body,

the senseless beauty​​​​ it was made with.

let me see myself. ​​in a light so new and pink

​ i can confuse the aches and burns

​​​ for sun-dancing victory.

Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda self published her first poetry book, Rainlily, in 2018.

Image by wildfires, found on Flickr:

#poetry #wandadeglane #summersadness

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