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2 Poems by Myka Kielbon

Updated: Oct 24

Watershed


I want to tell you about

the dry creek

that runs through my body,

carved out by floods (and

channelized by the

Army Corps of Engineers).

It was once dangerous,

washing out

chicken farms and lean-tos,

but now is a trickling

afterthought, with

irrigation runoff growing

this strange algae in me.

Slow down, I need

to run my hands

over smooth spring rocks

coated in pillowed green.

Could I become

running water

like you are?

Dancing through

these living days?

Yet I wish to quiet

my mind, to a still pool

that can be here,

let you drink deep.

I wish you were

wanting for water.



World Glasses


A pair of men

played harmonica and accordion

on Raymond. They called

good morning, and turning,

I cut corners, in a hurry.

It was a gray California morning,

with haze like smudges on glasses,

that hung between me and a morning light woodcut

of the San Gabriels.

In the air too hang smudges

on my world glasses, I have yet no intentions

of finding a clean hem to my world shirt. Let the morning

be accordion noise and car screeches

meandering with my brainwaves. I’ve already

been everyone in the world today.

My actual glasses, not my world glasses which are hazy,

my actual glasses cast the world afoot a fishbowl

and I move down the uncertain edge of the five lane road

into the office with tunnel vision.


I don’t see much of the sun until I do, until

it’s 12:30 in LA on a Thursday.

I go to buy a salad, to scorn

cherry tomatoes in winter

but eat them anyway. Out of the grocery,

back into the sun. I squint and think of the evening come

when I can howl at the moon.

Can you help me get some lunch?

My eyes focused on bare feet.

The edges of his toenails were blackened.

Let’s see what we can do.

I reached into my purse, eyes guarded against

bright lot sunlight.

I like your boots. Are you a cowboy?

He wore plaid, slate blue, cotton pajamas,

like pajamas my mother wears.

The ones my mother wears are mens’ pajamas.

She would’ve had five inches on the guy

which means, so did I.

Plus boots. In the boots

I walk

like I am going somewhere.

This comes from the noise,

the clicking or

thumping depending

on terrain.

He was barefoot.


My mother once gave

a man in a parking lot

a hundred bucks and later read

in the news that he pulled

himself up by bootstraps.


Are you a cowboy?

Well, I guess I have been.

I have already been everyone in the world today.


I knew I didn’t have any change.

I wish I had had some change.

I have been a woman that had lots of change

In a little baggie in her purse, but she passed.

I opened my wallet to find a five

that Nick gave me at the bowling alley

when I paid for his and Cindy’s

drinks. Last bit of cash in my wallet.

But that woman I was, on lunch break,

bright light of day,

with a leather purse and a purpose

and limited time and maybe

even mercy and maybe even generosity,

that woman had five whole dollars to spare.

Out I held the bill.

He took off blue eyeglasses, held them out.

Here, take these. They’d look nice on you.

Casting a limp hand, he threw the glasses

towards me with little conviction.

They fell to the asphalt between us.

I met his empty eyes momentarily,

too long,

they were hard, like the asphalt.

I felt flimsy, like the glasses.

I walked up the street.

Am I a cowboy?

My hips swayed.

My wallet was light.

I rode the concrete.

Yes, I am.




Myka Kielbon makes radio on the West Coast, living between LA and Seattle. She has a BA in History from Occidental College, where she found poetry through creating books in the letterpress shop. She has appeared on air for KPCC and KCRW, and in 2018 printed Never Say I Remember, a hand-bound chapbook collected from the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles’ poetry workshop.






Photo: Chava Sanchez

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