'Trailer #2'
photo by Samantha Malay, Long Beach, Washington, 1989

by Samantha Malay
published in Five South/The Weekly

wake from summer’s sleep
to rosehip frost and cold blue skies
shirt cuffs stained with linseed oil
door frame swollen in overnight rain

set aside the forks and spoons
pocket knife
a bar of soap
cardboard box of clothes and towels
sleeping bags and tire chains

touch the stove
and close the curtains
mountain cabin
beyond plow lines

steer around ruts
toward opaque horizon
town for winter again

photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 2021

by Samantha Malay
published in Plainsongs, Corpus Callosum Press, winter 2022

walk slough-side
near train tracks
through foxglove and brambles
as the sun sets on Prairie Market
and the phone booth at Dairy Queen
freeway ramp and driveway gravel
rotting apples
lawn chairs
back door
and kitchen
where night comes early
to the curtainless window
amid ghosts of freight from Black River Junction
steamboat wheels tangled in reeds    

photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 2021

East Marginal Way
by Samantha Malay
published in Five on the Fifth, volume 7, issue 2

salt marsh riverbend
back porches tilt and slope
shoulder bones
in shirts too large

wingspan of Cooper’s hawk
sun slips from windowsills
down Michigan Street

payday loans
and wild dill

songs of siphoned gas
meatloaf stretched with saltine crumbs
tongues still burnt from last night’s soup

photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 2021

by Samantha Malay
published in Soliloquies Anthology, issue 26.1

I am late June
in a hillside apartment
windows held open with rain-swollen phonebooks
where sparks fly
as streets intersect
and buses break free of overhead cables

I am sunbeam on beer bottle that starts a grass fire
bumblebees in nettle shade

I can give you a haircut
sew a button back on
show you the shape of the city by night
and how close we are to the water

photo by Samantha Malay, Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018

Onion Creek, 1979
by Samantha Malay
published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, issue 12

two boys and a middle girl
the Miranda kids
knew motorbikes
BB guns and cigarettes
french fries
and pocket change

cooked spaghetti
danced the hustle
tan toes poking through sneaker canvas
hair clumped and streaky
from pond-swimming days

white teeth
dirty jokes
serial killer stories
told in sleeping bags
mosquito song
in silky night



photo by Samantha Malay, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018

Place Settings
by Samantha Malay
published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, issue 12


in the still air
of my mother-in-law’s livingroom      
I kneel on the rug          
to nest dishes in boxes           

and I see her
hair sleek as bird-wings
in a sleeveless geometric print dress
hosting parties with these archaic vessels
in officers’ quarters when she lived overseas
lifting a gravy boat amid tablecloth clatter
the rosebud-shaped handle on a sugarbowl lid

as guests carry drinks to smoke on the deck
ashtrays like seashells
in the dim light of storm clouds
where seedpods crackle
and pine branches arch
over an ornamental riverbed of stones

at her kitchen table
now crowded with ghosts
she translates a recipe for cucumber salad

and unfolding lawnchairs
in patio shade
we talk about the cherries
we can see from down here

Near Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico
photo by Samantha Malay, near Mitla ruins, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018

by Samantha Malay
published in Shark Reef – A Literary Magazine, issue 38, summer 2021

on sidewalks slick with rotting leaves
we wait for a freight train to pass

don’t oversleep
we will meet in the middle
of an empty room
in a town of hard shadows
windshield glare and drooping vines

and I will know you by the clothes you once wore
books we misplaced
birds we saw when the car broke down

we are rivers hidden under opaque skies
glass fuses on a basement shelf
the sound of dogs up the street