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LINDA NEAL

Linda Neal has published several chapbooks and two full collections, Dodge & Burn (Bambaz Press, 2014) and Not About Dinosaurs (Bambaz Press, 2020). Her poems have been widely published in Calyx, Chiron Review, Gyroscope Review, Prairie Schooner, Tampa Review and elsewhere. She was featured in the online journal Cultural Weekly in May of 2021. Linda lives and teaches poetry in Redondo Beach, CA. She is a psychotherapist, writing teacher, thirty-year kidney transplant patient and Pushcart nominee with an MFA from Pacific University.



HOLLOW A TENDER HOLE

My dog waits on the cool closet floor

for me to open the door


bursts to life like the Starblast Euphoria

I planted today, when she hears Walk.


A late night walk under a half moon

that must miss its other half.


In the missing, things become whole.

In the dreaming that relies on a light in the mind.


There is a logic to the blossom of the Euphorbia

a certainty about the way it shoots its blooms into the air.


This moon and the starlight are ours.

Dark-night motion the salve that thrills us


as much as night-dark secrets chase

our neighbors into well-lit rooms.


We return home, leaving the sky

to wander under the moon.


Darkness hollows a tender hole in infinity

to deliver the day. This must be the way god enters


us, pulling day from night, so we can name

him, and in so doing name ourselves.



DIGGING UP FOSSILS


Every journey between our homes

was new, every journey as old as skin

through hills overrun

with jack pumps nodding

like horses, donkeys,

digging up triceratops.


Steel herd marching in place

on the dry hills

pumping earth’s history—

dinosaur blood, ancient bones

and flesh, fuel for that car trip

from the beach to the foothills.


The long arm of history

will extend questions—

Did they speak

Earth? Translate

time? Eat daisies?

Have a solid grammar? Was it

liquid or linear?


We rode over La Cienega’s hill

up Stocker Street

between rows of pump jacks

pulling. We sat on the back

of the MG convertible,

wind blowing our hair,

at the beginning of our lives,

Suzie’s father punching the accelerator,

the black road cutting

through the slope.


A daylight of wounds

hemorrhaging crude, the hills—

they must dream a gentler future,

wait for a pure night,

when things will right themselves,

steel donkeys disappearing

into Hollywood's dreamscape

and black gold will be a nothing more

than a flower on a stalk

climbing toward the sun.



BY HALF


I've taken over all the closets

since he died,

made sure there's no room for him

to come back. In the bedroom,

the closet has two doors

— enter from the south or the north —

shelves stacked with my shoes at one end,

boots at the other, blouses and shirts

hanging in the middle.

Everything in me is broken in two

in ways the eloquence of time can't mend.

Could I feel less like a cripple,

less like I have to hate myself

for being so alone?

I oil the louvers on the wardrobe doors,

polish the three brass knobs,

hang up sweaters and jackets by color

making rituals out of cloth, haunted

by the cocoa brown of

his leather jacket, his hands, his cheeks,

that tender stem at his core. No,

I'm not color-blind, just body-blinded

looking for the half I've lost, the half that slept

on the other side of the bed. I say I want

another man to fill up the space.

While I sleep or read and stroke

myself into chasms of light,

the empty side watches,

pushes the pillow.

I could suffocate in the space between.



BLOSSOM IN THE COLD


Portland with your roiling rivers,

glorious storms and dragon boat races,

wet scrawl, a chapter

in my stolen life. Powell's books

the VA just across the bridge,

where my love hangs on

and cherry trees blossom in the cold.


Portland sky tram love city

hospital's hill-perch

Chinese Garden walk with koi

Saturday market by the bridge

jackets flying, eyes blurred

by wind and love

so grateful

I could chew my way to God

before I know

what I know

both men will die here,

lover and friend,

Mike and Michael,

while the rain keeps falling.

Portland wet streets.

Bassist jams and singers chant

Universalist Unitarian hangs its banner—

gun-free zone, a sermon of a sign.


My sudden, impossible home

widow new city wet, foreign

blocks and blocks

of books and forever rain. But

I could give up

L.A.'s beaches

even give up Mary See's Bordeaux

for Portland. I'm ready to yield

where death grabs hold,

and cracked crab drips

like my umbrella by the door.






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