Tuesday, November 30, 2010


how many streetlights

staring at the ugly ceiling
I map the way my body feels.
step outward, like it's not mine.
you let me smoke weed on your floor;
I tilt my head back and blow the blue
smoke upwards.

we drive for hours. it could be less.
the dark, flat land and black
sky makes it feel like
we're underwater. did you know
this used to be the ocean floor?
I say. I think someone told me that once.
rolling down the window, I soak
in the coldness of the rich black
dirt fields, flailing out around us,
away from the snaking highway.

in the parking lot a white car inches past
us. I don't know what time it
is. your lights flick off.
inside the shadows a set of watery eyes
catches mine, shifting beneath a slick
of silver hair. the passenger seat is
empty; voices on the radio murmur as the
car disappears. you turn the key and the
engine hums.

cherry red from the traffic light shines
on your cheeks. I knead my
fingertips into your scalp; the car feels like
a submarine.
pulling up your hair from the
base, like roots, your head eases
toward me like I want it to.
the stores on main street are
empty, and I follow the car's
reflection in every frosted window
as we pass them.

i've heard that my eyes are
green sometimes. stretching my legs
onto the gravel, I wonder what color
they are now, underneath the only streetlight
in our development.
the curb is cold in my palms; my small white
house sits quietly at the end of the street,
blue shutters. I say,
can you believe some people
define their whole town by
how many streetlights it has?


  1. Wow. Excellent work, Rachel. So glad to see that you are still writing--and so well. Only suggestion: I would cut the line "as we pass them" --no new information and the frosted windows is such a great image to leave suspended between the stanzas. Keep on keepin' on, woman--let us see more!

  2. I'm not sure why you mention the weed-smoking.
    It doesn't really apply to the rest of the poem in that it's not mentioned again, and all the imagery is almost tainted knowing it's just a trip.

    I'd rather be swept up in a magical evening, ignorant to the cause of your insights.

    Sometimes the narration is imprecise. I'm not sure who you're talking to, then suddenly at the end, you address the reader directly. But then again, you might not be. You could be asking this person driving you around with your hands in his hair.

    And the mention of the car as a submarine is already implied by the underwater imagery, which was gorgeous, by the way.

    The connection between each stanza is not clear. This could almost work as a five separate poems. I suggest finding something common to link them all, or at least something more common.
    ask yourself:
    Why are these stanza's together in this one poem?

    "inside the shadows a set of watery eyes
    catches mine" - great line