'Champion'
photo by Samantha Malay, Tucson, Arizona, 1990

Forest Service Map
by Samantha Malay
published in Ponder Review, volume 4, issue 2
https://www.muw.edu/ponderreview

in golden green creekbend shade
arms uncouple from sleeves
ankles and feet push silt

hold branches aside
up the slope to the road
where heat still shimmers off the hood of the truck
and the sky is white
between black trees

a moth in the rafters
the contour of absence
flowers pressed in unread books

'Parking Lot #3'
photo by Samantha Malay, Tucson, Arizona, 1990

Underbrush
by Samantha Malay
published in Ponder Review, volume 4, issue 2
https://www.muw.edu/ponderreview

we kneeled
in pitch-stained jeans
on pine needles
tiny bones
and porcupine quills
to measure the distance
by the sound of our voices
between burn barrel sparks
and when we would leave
in numbers reduced
by the shape of the mountain
broken bootlaces
and songs we forgot
to an address written on a bus station paperback
and a road that led away from the trees

'Parking Lot #7'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1990

Rosary
by Samantha Malay
published in Qwerty Magazine, issue 42
https://www.qwertyunb.com/product-page/qwerty-issue-42

untangle words from the kitchen phone
around kids eating toast in their swimsuits
macaroni salad in a margarine tub
pale grass where the hose was coiled

count the cuts to open a can
with a keychain P-38
thistle seeds on windshield dust
a duffel bag on the passenger seat

'Parking Lot #9'
photo by Samantha Malay, Long Beach, Washington, 1989

Yelm
by Samantha Malay
published in The Very Edge: Poems (Flying Ketchup Press 2020)
ISBN-13: 978-1-970151-23-7
shorturl.at/lqr78 

you can stand in the doorway to look at the night
and pray against a family fate
of muddy yards and porch pianos

seek comfort in upkeep
wasps beyond the ladder’s reach
a sliver of soap on the edge of the sink
the glitter of glass shards beneath a broom

picture yourself covered in leaves
pockets emptied of matchbooks and coins
limbs no longer hinged for gait
far from the grasp of hasty plans

'Oxbow Inn #1'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1991

Unhatched
by Samantha Malay
published in The Closed Eye Open, June 2020
https://theclosedeyeopen.com/issue-i/


Loose ends, my brother and sister and I emerged from tree-canopy and Oregon rain to stay in a noisy house in Kettle Falls. We’d lived without faucets or refrigerators but knew the names of many plants and how to detect thunder on the horizon.

The three of us ate grocery store chicken and bean salad on a TV tray and watched shows we’d never seen before, tight polyester pants and laugh tracks and deodorant ads. The livingroom was separated from the murky kitchen by a grey metal tool shelf cluttered with jars of root-water spider plants and dust. Pans sat abandoned in the sink, a greasy dishtowel shoved through the oven handle. Stacks of mail crowded car keys and a pair of nail clippers on the counter. Joke books floundered on the toilet tank. The sprinkler ran until the lawn was a swamp. At first it felt like a dangerous vacation.

Across the street from a cemetery, 665 Kalmia Street was full of belongings and furniture in uncomfortable relationships, as if people had moved in and weren’t finished unpacking, or were just about to move out. Mom lived there with her boyfriend Jerry and his two sons, Tom and Bruce, high school seniors, a grade skipped or failed by one or the other, who couldn’t have resembled each other less if they’d been unrelated. Bruce had frizzy hair like his girlfriend. Barely six years older, they looked at me from the land of adults, where candlewax covered nightstands and albums were stacked against walls. Ashtrays were filled, bottles were emptied, then slowly filled again with discarded coins.

Sheila slept on a window seat near the wall phone under paper curtains printed with blue and purple hydrangeas. I had the floor of the broom closet off the kitchen. Maybe Ben got the couch. We kept our clothes in a cardboard box.

My new classmates incubated chicken eggs. We broke the shell of the unhatched one, saw a fully-formed creature, wet feathers, closed eyes, feet and legs curled.

On the last day of school, water balloons soaked our shirts and jeans. I sat on a log with my friends at the edge of the playground, where the field met the parking lot. I wrote letters to them that summer, when we returned to the cabin. I tried to feather my hair in the reflection on the porch window, but it had grown too long, so I went back to barrettes.

Our family unraveled, in time measured in maps and missing report cards and not enough money for stamps.

'Trailer #1'
photo by Samantha Malay, on the way to Onion Creek, Washington, 1990

Between
by Samantha Malay
published in Shark Reef – A Literary Magazine, issue 36

Between

trespass quietly
to smell the end of summer
in the sundown trees
and lunchbox rust
an uneven history
of bee-stings and scorch
branches broken to fit in the stove
dirt from other towns still on our shoes

'Parking Lot #10'
photo by Samantha Malay, Friday Harbor, Washington, 1989

Juanita
by Samantha Malay
published in Soliloquies Anthology, issue 24.2
https://issuu.com/soliloquiesanthology/docs/soliloquies_24.2_issu
 

hot buckle
seatbelt
tangled hair
stained mouth
dirty feet
wet towel
tank top
bra strap
waistband
underwear
patch pocket
bandana
broken shells
floor coins
fried chicken
parking lot
pay phone
flip-flops
bumper dent
tow hitch
beer cans
backseat sand

'Swap Shop #2'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1999

Home
by Samantha Malay
published in Rougarou Journal of Arts and Literature, Winter 2020
http://rougarou.org/?s=samantha+malay

 
when we no longer live in our bodies
do we inhabit the spaces between
voices cupped in bedspread folds
hands around a match
winter kitchen cookbook stains
unmarked keys
missing teeth
tufts of feather and bone?

see me in the lath and plaster
clothesline tied to cherry trees
empty spools
diaper pins
carpenter ants and gutter vines

'Charolais Motel'
photo by Samantha Malay, near Nampa, Idaho, 1997

Signal
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay

 
in winter we dreamed of birds
shoulder blades and arms and wrists
hinged as if for flight
a kinship record held in what we left behind

torn pages and ink blossoms
strands of hair in swingset chains
sand dollars in coffee cans

wait with me on the steps to the porch
until we’re signaled to migrate
by an unpracticed language
and an angle of light

'Hillside Motel'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1990

Property
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay

 
One spring we slept in a canvas tent
near an abandoned homestead
at the edge of a field.

My parents and their friend Gunner
salvaged tongue-and-groove boards for a summer shack
peeled logs for our cabin
and tried to keep the yellowjackets off their sweat.

After the sun went down
and the trees blended with the night
they drank Lucky beer in short brown bottles
and laughed while they solved the puzzles
inside the caps.

The top bunk bed was mine
and when I couldn’t sleep
I watched the patterns on the ceiling
made by the kerosene lamp below.

When Gunner left the next summer
his car bent the weeds that grew down the middle of the road
that led away from our property.

We dug holes for bottles around the garden
to scare the gophers
with the sound of the wind inside the glass.