2 Poems by Myka Kielbon
Updated: Oct 24
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,
chicken farms and lean-tos,
but now is a trickling
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
like you are?
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.
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
like I am going somewhere.
This comes from the noise,
the clicking or
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,
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