the citrus patrol

the sign reads Sam Houston,
though it fails to disclose
the clementine identity
of the man who
raises his sunburnt head,
ears that twitch
to remind young drivers
that right is safe,
left is a risk,
and to pull the keys out
while placing a foot
on the beer bottle mosaic
set on the ground.

know that he can jump
like high school hurdlers,
and he’ll treat your sun roof
like an aquarium that houses
the world’s shiniest fish.

Cat No. 62 of the 500 Cats Project

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rosemary tangerine tea

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

I’m losing my way, or at least I feel so as I trip over my own sore feet upon making contact with a man riding his bike. His baseball cap reads “CIA” and I find my mouth drying up for no logical reason. Tell me about something that is logical. Show me cubes of equal dimensions, the kind that makes iced coffee so aesthetically pleasing on some Italian stranger’s Instagram.

The scarlet crawls across my face, but I advise you to look at my fingers if you aim to make a connection between changes in color and dropping temperatures. My heater does the best it can, and I complain when I shouldn’t, but understand that coldness has always been foreign to me, and I don’t quite know what a heatwave is.

I wake up earlier and write more, about things that belong on a word processor and not on a sheet of pretty paper. That’s not to say I do not enjoy writing about visas, deportation, that Oakland warehouse fire, and Donald Trump. But getting paid for poetry sounds fun, and here I am again, losing my way, stating the obvious, while thinking of how to describe St. Augustine grass in a way that commands several people to care.

Thirty minutes out of the day are spent on pilates. I used to run, but now I cannot. The corkscrew remains my favorite move. The gray cat sits still, wrapped in my cardigan, while Tabby peeks out of the futon’s shadows. I finish the routine, open the cupboard, and grab the tin of tangerine rosemary tea. Still, I cannot shut up about how good it tastes, blended with milk and honey. It doesn’t hurt yet, to drink so much sugar. I don’t think I’ve had my first cavity.

I set aside books that take up space, but I remember too well that there stands a dumpster behind a nearby bookstore. It’s filled with books, and according to someone who claimed to organize the shelves, these are books that kids were actually paid for. Somehow, this saddens me.

I’m saddened by the leaves torn across the ground. Articles about men (boys?) piss me off, and I’m still congested, on my fourth cup of tangerine rosemary tea. Perhaps I need a nap. Need. That’s a loaded word. The gray cat wriggles out of the cardigan I love to wrap him in while two people near my doormat argue about whom that was so callously “played.”

Seasons.

…just wandering out of my box.

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Jack in the Box has Wi-Fi, and their coffee is cheaper than Starbucks. I’ve got a fistful of coupons and I’ll admit, without shame, that Jack in the Box sells the best junky breakfast I could ask for, at any time of the day. I don’t go there often, mainly because the nearest one is across the money order kiosk I remember so well, thanks to two boys who didn’t look older than seventeen. They sat in a Chrysler, the passenger nodding over and over as he pointed to me, drenched in my ivory sweater. The attendant behind the window advised me to stand across from her until the boys left. After twenty minutes, she rolled her eyes and told me, “Girls get snatched up on this street all the time.”

I thanked her, left with my security deposit, and slowly walked beneath the overpass, remembering the safety alert from two years before about a sedan falling from the upper level near Martin Street. Someone died. I cringe each time I walk near a highway, contemplating the weight of steel and rubber against my brittle chest. A thousand, ten thousand, a million silenced pieces that wouldn’t be disputed to the degree that I’ve questioned the veracity behind Jack in the Box’s calorie counts.

Roasted Black Coffee: Five calories.
Iced Coffee, Flavored: One hundred eighty to two hundred ten calories.

Black coffee sounds too good to be true, but what do I know of its truth? Without sweetened creamer, I often opt for tea. That too was on the menu, something around one hundred calories.

Hell, I’m not scared of calories, but I know I must stray from caffeine and processed sugars. I’ve just now adjusted myself to a proper sleeping schedule. My routine would take months to rectify if I toy with it again.

No one dines in at this Jack in the Box. The tables and floors are bleached to a modest gloss. I wonder if this is one of those spots where “girls get snatched up.” I suggest to myself that this may be one of those spots to get work done, with the coupons I have and the Wi-Fi stickers slapped on every door.

The police academy’s several blocks down, but it’s not the place to call when someone crawls through the drive-through window, angry that truly, Jack ran out of his awesome bacon n’ cheese potato wedges. I often think of the worst, and again, I toss away the idea of writing at a restaurant. The last time was at a McDonald’s, where I was reprimanded by a manager for swaying to Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose.”

“You’re disturbing my customers,” the manager snapped.

It’s hard to consolidate life’s taunting list of things that disturb the conscience.