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
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-
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
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
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
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
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: https://flic.kr/p/8qUA81