Scattered shapes

Of yellowed leaves

Dolloped shadows

Of orange light

I would travel

Alone at night

Men

Would follow me

Until I turned around

Showing my crooked teeth

Years later

Women scream

If I follow too closely

The withered branches

Cast delicate shadows

Make me look black and white

Grayscale

Sketched softly

In the dim darkness

Women scream at me

When I pass them in the street

Grab their purses

Hold futile weapons

In their manicured hands

Eye gougers

Pepper spray

Car keys

Tiny handguns

Knives that could be

Easily

Taken away

I never carried a weapon

When I walked alone

I kept nothing

But my crooked teeth

My rancid breath

My howling voice

But every girl I knew

Carried a switchblade

Between her breasts

Whenever she walked

Alone

--

--

There is a cult in California

Which has devastated

Several economies

Destroyed

Local wildlife

Decimated

Biodiversity

A cult that

Lures young women

Into shaving their heads

Stripping off their clothes

Flailing wildly in public

A cult that encourages

Oil companies

To drill into the frozen Earth

Where pelts were once collected

Useful idiots

Helpful fools

Unknowingly contributing

To our global destruction

Believing, with futility

That they are solving the problem

Created by their ancestors

--

--

Lara puts it into dumplings,

Sam covers it with salt,

Adam has it with French fries,

And a chocolate malt

Sarah cooks it into stew

With cabbage that she grows

Aaron covers it in pastry shell

And pretends he doesn’t know

Could be chicken, could be fish

It’s fine if he can’t see,

He’ll say it might be Kosher,

But it’s a mystery

Jaime lies and says it’s pork

When the in-laws are in town

Doesn’t tell them what it really is

And they just wolf it down

Jessie puts it into bao

The best that she can make

Shaun puts it on the barbecue

Next to sausages and steak

This is meat which can be eaten

In lots of different ways

Just tell them what it really is

On a different day

--

--

California lawmakers shocked to discover

Giant rats everybody has always hunted,

Men in nicely ironed golf shirts

Women with crisp white collars

Soft, manicured hands

Shocked to discover

Shocked

Billybob’s been hunting nutria

Since the age of thirteen

He strips the fur and cleans it up

Add one and a half cup

Vegetable stock

Carrots, celery, onions

Broil until partly cooked

Then, add to grill

With a splash of oil

Cook until crispy golden brown

Tastes like pork and alligator

It is the forbidden meat

Of a disgusting polluted swamp

Life-sustaining

California lawmakers shocked to discover

River Rats, they are called

Shocked

They are shocked to discover

A staple food of San Joaquin

The food no one wants to buy

The fur is sewn into the lining

Of ten thousand

Children’s jackets

With the hands

Of ten thousand mothers

--

--

There is a strange creature

Lurking in the California waters

Whose fur is not as fine as rabbit,

Or as sought after as mink,

But whose hides have fed the mouths

Of ten thousand stomachs,

In half a dozen trailers

There is a funny creature

Made of delicious flesh

Whose hides have fed the bellies

Of ten thousand mouths

Whose sleek pelt

Has protected the backs

Of ten thousand hunters

The ELFs came in 1980,

Ripped open cages,

And released the sustenance

Liberated a natural resource,

And fed ten thousand mouths,

In 2019, they came again,

They pushed the food off the table,

Now the Delta,

With its polluted, opaque waters,

Belongs to the River Rat

--

--

In the Delta waters,

Dark polluted ripples

Form below the surface

Fathers walking with their daughters

Point at the opaque shapes

Floating nimbly amongst the disturbed waters,

“Those are river rats,” say the fathers

Walking with their children

Kicking up dust along the crumbling levies

“They’ve been here since I was a kid,

Once used for fur, now discarded

Been here for more than forty years,

But rarely are regarded.”

The sun is thick and heavy

Burning crisp red blotches onto little boys

Swimming and jumping into the polluted Delta

Tomorrow they will come to school

Wearing hooded sweatshirts lined with bristly fur

Bellies full of pork-like meat,

If asked about their jacket

They say they got it from the store

Shamefully they will understand

That their mothers sewed the skins with love

--

--

Beyond the twisted trees

We can see

Cherry bombs and fireworks

Stuffed into

mailboxes filled with paint,

circles of burnt rubber

In the parking lot,

Cigarette butts behind

The dumpster behind

The resource building behind the school,

She’s got

Strong arms and strong legs

She’s not

Afraid of traveling

Anywhere,

--

--