Kevin Opstedal

Zulu as Kono

As if you could ditch your own pale shadow
                the way a snake sheds its skin
parking your reflection in a tidepool mirror
& walking away down a deserted stretch of highway beneath
                a cloud that wanders like a rust-colored palomino
eclipsing the drugstrore window, the low ceiling, & the
                feeling this has happened before like timelapse blossoms
unwinding in your pinned eyes

                but lost in a dream say one that features
Patti Smith, St. Augustine, & an orangutan
                               in a motel room outside of La Paz

Its secret meaning is one you’ll have to learn to live with
dragging a blade thru the sand like a 90 day suspended sentence
in rainbow colors
                               with a beard

Pissing on the Sidewalk

One night you remember the sink full of ice cubes
& the screendoor chiaroscuro
                              sectioning every loose molecule of moonlight

the Tibetan Book of the Dead stencil kit
                                             spread out across the bed
as chopsticks circle eternity on the map of her hips
sweating on a circumstantial street corner in Santa Monica, California
like an orchid with a bloody nose

It might hurt but it’s awful pretty she said,
                              20,000 leagues beneath the parking lot

& like a shipwreck in a bottle the sky caves in & the tide rolls out
& the horizon
               sharp as a curved blade held to the throat of sunset
shimmers like a thin line of bluegreen neon lip gloss

The Bride of Frankenfish

The shadows in this town are all wrong
                but what does that say about the light
stalling out in the heavy ocean haze?
                               like me I guess another sea creature reciting
                the tide chart confessing to everything
                                              pure blue turquoise & slanted
                green sea beach pine logistics
as they pertain to the drum machine in the pavement
                               set alongside the spaghetti western sky
                like the jewel of denial


The sand shifts beneath the wash of waves. I test the water, thinking of all the shadows I had to step through to get here. What about the hall of mirrors between my ears? Just another attraction at the deserted amusement park that wears my shoes. A slow sky bending back over the ferris wheel, the loop, the bumper cars, immaculate greenery, weeds, broken glass, gold teeth, Pompeii, Malibu, Teotihuacàn, a whalebone cello w/barbedwire strings, barefoot eucalyptus spiderwebs, warm beer at 3 in the morning, & all of it thereby assembled like an ancient alphabet. The steam-driven calliope churning underwater. Bells in the kelp grove. Greek astronomy. A slab of concrete rotting on the beach. I’ve got a hymnal full of the stuff. All tricked out & rationalized like a full-metal bikini swamp shimmering in the dark.

Kevin Opstedal's most recent books are Drainpipe Sessions (Otoliths) and California Redemption Value (University of New Orleans Press). Both books were published this year.
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