Lucia Galloway

Conversation at Night

Bordering a walk between two buildings was a low wall where we sat in a ring of light to have the conversation we’d agreed to.  To talk it out.  Low wall beside a walk between two buildings, your shiny bicycle just there. In front of us while we had the conversation we’d agree to.  People walked by, glanced at us in our conversation, dodged the bicycle—its fat tires.  Under the light, we were prize fighters circling each other in the ring?  We were dancing partners wheeling warily, listening for the end of the last reprise?  These are tired metaphors not up to figuring what we felt or said. What anybody saw.  Everybody saw the bicycle—its fat tires.  That frame, those spokes and tires. These alone were witnesses to what went down that night beside the walkway in the ring of light.

Meditation on a Line from Martha Ronk’s “Quotidian”

Scape:     An act of escaping.   A thoughtless transgression.
A representation of a scenic view, as in landscape, seascape,
cityscape, etc. The shaft of a column.

–The New Shorter OED

Under a tangle of dark canopy, a scrappy understory,
in a surge of shrubs and stems and leaves,
the air cools, and my skin grows expectant.  It waits
to join my other senses drinking in the wilderness.

High in the trees a tht,tht,tht,tht,tht … dry and insistent
as the rasping whir of an electric fan slowing to a stop.

Down the path, two birds scissor across at knee-height,
swift and bright, snipping swatches of air.

A sycamore, whiter-of-trunk than the others in its grove—
their patchy, brown and khaki bark still clinging—seems
necessary, like the steeple that focuses a landscape.

And yet, I find that I’ve come over-fed to this
botanic garden wilderness—no hunger rising.
I’ve brought language with me like a lunch, like a camera
with its set of lenses: the tropes, the images and meters

of Wordsworth’s inscape.  The calendar photos,
travel folders, and letters from the Sierra Club.  I am
no Annie Dillard, unburdened pilgrim on her daily trek.

My shadow startles me when I break cover into sunlight
at my back.  My legs have become pillars, grand in the
oblique morning sun.  They support a shortened torso,

totem head.  No expectancy, no more waiting under
verdant cover of old trees for wilderness to speak.
Only this striding forward in a gray and shrinking skin.

Of Petrarch and Cigarettes

My thoughts are fresh today,
missing that sexy idyll
of flip-flops and bare legs
caressed by summer’s sun.

Missing that sexy idyll
of Petrarch’s Laura
caressed by summer’s sun,
I smoked a fag, but still I think

of Petrarch’s Laura.
Too much already.
I smoked a fag, but still I think
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?

Too much already
about books and reading
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?
Let’s talk now of smoking.

About books and reading
generally, not enough is said.
But let’s talk now of smoking
cigarettes, their glowing tips.

Generally, not enough is said
about the gift of cool white
cigarettes, their glowing tips.
(don’t even think of sex!)

About the gift of cool white
sheets, I’m fantasizing now,
not thinking, not! of sex.
My thoughts are fresh today.

Southern California poet Lucia Galloway earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles.  Her published collections are Venus and Other Losses (Plain View, 2010) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (Finishing Line, 2005).  Poems appear widely in journals, including Comstock Review, Midwest Quarterly, Tar River, Centrifugal  Eye, Innisfree, and Inlandia; in the anthologies Thirty Days (Tupelo, 2015) and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque, 2015).  Her poem “Open to the Elements” was a top-prize winner in RhymeZone’s 2014-15 Poetry Contest.  Galloway’s manuscript “The Garlic Peelers” won the QuillsEdge Press 2015 Chapbook Competition and was a Finalist in Tupelo’s 2015 Snowbound Competition. She co-hosts “Fourth Sundays,” a reading series at the Claremont Library.