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

Onion Creek, 1979
by Samantha Malay
published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, issue 12
https://goatsmilkmagazine.ca/2021/10/01/onion-creek-1979/                                                                                                    

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

 

 

street_1_Oaxaca_cropped
photo by Samantha Malay, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018

Place Settings
by Samantha Malay
published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, issue 12
https://goatsmilkmagazine.ca/2021/10/01/place-settings/

 

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

Threshold
by Samantha Malay
published in Shark Reef – A Literary Magazine, issue 38, summer 2021
http://sharkreef.org/poetry/threshold-2/


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

'Swap Shop #3'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1999

Ruston, 1972
by Samantha Malay
published by TINGE Magazine, May 2021

Ruston, 1972

forty-three feet above sea level
on a landfill peninsula
shaped by sediment and slag
a copper-smelting smokestack
melted nylon stockings
off backyard laundry lines

a mile away
seahorses curled
in tidal pools
we sat on old bath towels
creosote and kelp
our backs to the waves

'House #3'
photo by Samantha Malay, Tucson, Arizona, 1990

Burial
by Samantha Malay
published by In Parentheses, February 2021
https://inparentheses.art/2021/02/09/inland-and-other-poems-by-s-malay/


under the porch
shoulder blades scrape
where light slats through
to roots and dry dirt
a tarpaper nail
opaline insect shells
pull the bandage aside
we are stitched together

frost covers grass
trees disappear
in early night

sleepwalking
we halve the distance
follow luck like ruts down the mountain

power_lines_1
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 2020

Lapse
by Samantha Malay
published in Shark Reef – A Literary Magazine, issue 37, winter 2021

Lapse

lack of a plan felt like reason enough
to follow half-truths as if they were favors
sandwiches assembled on a plywood scrap
by whoever sat in the passenger seat

and sort the belongings of the recently dead
in a mobile home park outside San Bernardino
cactus in gravel at the edge of the road
TV too close to the couch

what I can claim is what I remember
crossing the border with pink paper flowers
streets with names like cowboy songs
ice on the floor in Victorville
the ocean only a shape on a map

'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