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Headnote to a Done Poem


ISSUE:  Summer 2015

    for/after Wanda Coleman


Dear L.A.,

I am sorry for your—Dear 

Baja and Bay, I am sorry 

for your—Dear Jagged West,

I am sorry for 

your—Dear Aged East, 

I am sorry for your—Dear Shine 

to Seas, I am sorry for 

your—Dear Pole to Pole, I am 

sorry for your—Dear Ice 

and Soil, I am sorry

for your—Dear Ear Canaled, I 

am sorry for your—Dear Eyeballed,

I am sorry for your—Dear Tongued 

and Dear Thumbed, I am 

sorry for your—Dear Nostrilled, 

oh my dear Nostrilled, I am sorry for your loss,
your loss of the funk, your funkless, 
bereft loss of that gut bucket busting 
with birds of paradise, church socks,
with coffee grounds and soggy paperbacks.
whiffs of ziplocked poppies and pissways, 
boocoo tailpipes belting yellow notes and backfire. 
ramshackle passels of green apples under underpasses.
oil paints gone fungal under summer sun.
of kerosene, the rainbow in the Valvoline pool 
and the bronzed coin slicked gold down there. 

Dear South L.A.,

I am sorry for your loss of Central,
ghost now, ganked and gaffled, 
cuffed and trunked with stuff we knew 
and stuff we don’t, stuff we was meant to get, 
to hold to, but butterfingered, let slip. 
stuff we figured we’d catch next time ’round,
but it was Sunday at midnight at a bus stop, Watts—
and the street gone dark for going mute. 

Dear Salt Petered 110,
Dear Weird Skied 10,
Dear Mortared 405,
Dear Spider Legged 5,
Dear Wheezing 14,

I regret your riverboat queenlessness, 
the white-walled paddle wheel moored in the dock.
gnash and chomp over this new dry spell, 
holler for your tarred beds and stiff necks.

Dear Soap Operas and Soapboxes,

I am sorry for your—Dear 

Chitins and Chitlins, I am sorry for 

your—Dear Pink Slips and Slipper Print,

I am sorry for your—

Dear Civic Offices of Wrung Hands and Ringing Lines,

I regret to be informed of this new earthquake cure. 
that our smogscrapers won’t come to shiver
with pleasure, with terror, with snits.
I regret the asphalt won’t fault to black cracks 
jabbing down to Earth’s orange heart, 
Dear Crust, Dear Mantle. sorry no bell will 
toll us below our tables. Dear Formica, 
Dear Veneer, I’m sorry we won’t peer 
beneath you and find hard fists of Bubblicious. 

Dear Mouthful of Oysters and Seeds, I am 

sorry for your—Dear Mouthful of Pop Bottles,

I am sorry for your—Dear Mouthful 
of 45s and Candy Hearts,

I regret you must peck bread at a stranger’s park bench,
peck bread out a new bag, sweet flock. a new pocket, hot damn.

Dear Throat of Grout, Throat of Fruit,

I regret the loss of low-down loups-garous,
of toe-holed nylon. a bushel of neon onions on a Zenith, 
unpeeling. the peal of sand pelting corrugated steel, stolen.
the quiet storm that slumbers behind molars, pulled.
the daybreak bitten like a kumquat, puked. 
the slow drag’s sloe wound, the rag’s ragged, sink-bound flight.
the alley’s gold teeth. the floor fan’s hum as it rumbles with July. 

Dear Amnesiac Eardrums,

I am—forget it.

Dear Channel Surfing No-see-ums,

I am—never mind. 

Dear Ruffled Hatchlings,

I am sorry for your pinions, your guano-tinted lenses,
for your shook-assery at tremors, and your tattooed blacklists, 
your little yellow tongues. I am sorry for big feet,
the Blue Parade, turned Blue Cortege, turned Second Line, 
all the pages it left, all the papers that pile 
your boulevard cobbled with eggshells.

Dear Armless Palm Trees,

I am sorry you could not catch her,

Dear Armless Palm Trees,

why couldn’t you catch her? 

Dear Children of the, of the—,

my great regret for reckoning you wouldn’t want, 
all what’s left below folding chairs, 
in garage-rotting boxes,
and by the final curb, 
her words where her picture would be,
the picture where her words.

Dear What’s Left of Us,
I regret we didn’t know 
a mind like a heart
was no mark-ass simile.

Dear Family
Dear Austin
Dear

I am sorry.

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