Jared Pearce

I Walk Along

To get to Benito Juarez Elementary, I walked over

South Hill, often with Jason and Eric and Tracy and Lauren

and once Jennifer who tattled on me for hitching a ride

On my sister’s banana-seater.  Drivers must have


Seen my sister struggling up the hill with my added weight,

And how the kids cheered us as we roared down to the light

On Sunkist, and all those adults let us go.  In class

We had been learning bicycle safety so that one day


I could ride my silver Roddy—upon which I’d dashed

The river, leapt the dust trails, skidded up and down Virginia

Avenue—but Jennifer and Mrs. Ruble were not impressed,


And two hundred fifty times I had to write, I will not ride

On the back of my sister’s bicycle, the pencil slower to push

Than uphill pedals, the limp of my cursive taking its dull toll.


Golden Poppies

The nova in your middle holds your flares

Stark against the deadest Iowan greens.

As a child I feared imprisonment for

Plucking you, one more star in Hollywood

Beyond my boyish grasp.

And now you’re here,

Ascending in the new place I call home,

Rooting my spinning galaxy in used

Ruts, the very lanes my dreams would orbit

And unfurl, shining through the dark matter

Of wishing, of wasting, of failing those

California Summers and Wisconsin

Winters, of losing my way as I lost

The scent of oranges, the ocean’s rush,

And how I had been divinely ignored.


Golden Poppies (4)

In this summer’s drench

you were lost:

the dawn of your brain

never outreaching the water-grass


Horizon, and there are no stars,

then, to trace

back to California,

the constellation of my memory


Unfurling a golden age

blazing as the stroke

of your hot petals,

a golden hole burnt


In Iowa’s green sea, calmly

folding me in its constant wave.


Curiosity Kitten

Lauren and Spring

were the queens we’d show

off for on our bikes;

the season for guessing


Women was ripe.  Jason

kissed Tracy before

the whole class,

and Bart groped Kathy


In the back, and Eric sniggered

over a poem where the speaker

put his wintered hand

on a comforting pussy—


We were at love’s mouse-hole,

hoping for that mystery

to peek its nose

so we could claw


It and make it a feast:

we couldn’t name

what made Misty’s body

or Jeanie’s smile so


Delicious, but if we stilled

that ball of string,

it might be mastered,

like a sparrow spiked—


That flying thing,

what’s it like to peal those feathers,

to touch those scaled feet,

to taste that weird beak?

Walking up a Hill

Jason, Tracy, Lauren, and I gathered pebbles

From the steep side to toss over the wire mesh

Atop South Hill and onto the north-bound Five

Traffic.  We didn’t know a penny-weight could,

Like love, smash a shield, or a pea-sized stone

Wreck a life, like a lack of understanding.

We wanted some sound, some gravity.

We must have looked like we were celebrating

As we lunged at the sky to lob our stones over the grill,

Until a driver came around, cracked his window,

Get home, before I call the cops, and

Jason and Lauren took off like shots,

While Tracy and I walked, wondering

How long we’d be in prison.


Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Nixes Mate, DIAGRAM, Infinity Ink, Otoliths, MUSE, and J Journal.  He grew up in Anaheim, California, now lives in Iowa, and misses the ocean and the mountains.