Strings in the Santa Ana Canyon by Roger Leatherwood

I watched you turn your suntan to the hot creek of summer
And listened as sea monsters clicked in empty nests
The brown winter rye whispered on my naked thighs
As I rushed to join you at the culvert by the bend

The mud was hot and damp. The air buzzed in barbwire circles
A line of green foam trapped the insects at the edge
The larvae and the naked toes in a bed of black grass
I want to be the tentacles that embrace you

The glare blinded me from the warmth in your skin
Your cloth, your creases denied, a smell like viscera
A clock that wasn’t ticking, a yell that wasn’t heard
Your foreign voices rustled in the thrush and the cave

Your bathing suit discarded in the crotch of two trees
You went behind the abelia to relieve yourself
So milky eyes watched from under the surface
And waved with thick liquor in silent approval

You laughed at the creature that came at night
Slicing the air and the curiosity in two
You walked through the iceplant back up the dirty hill
Not quite asleep and never cool enough to run
In those shorts with the strings


Roger Leatherwood worked on the lowest rungs of Hollywood for 20 years before returning to university and to print fiction, where the stories he could tell were his own. His feature “Usher” won numerous awards on the indie festival circuit and his work has appeared in Thirteen Myna Birds, Nefarious Ballerina, Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Cleaver, Razor Dildo, Oysters & Chocolate and other publications named after desirable or shiny objects. He can be found at

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