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Waiting

Legs like barnacles 
swing wide over the stone wall 
to wait the coming storm. 

Such joy in a white stucco world
of butterflies and garden gnomes
and fistfuls of choices for breakfast!

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Waikiki in June

“People Watching” Rozell, 2021.
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Edgar

There can’t possibly be anything in the world more complicated 
than a sourdough starter. 

I feed Edgar every 24 hours, sometimes more 
if he moans and belches 

a watery black liquid. “Hooch” this is called, and apparently 
I am to stir it back in 

and just keep feeding. But Edgar doesn’t like the sun 
& doesn’t like the pantry 

& doesn’t like cool water and it must be filtered 
I ask you how I am to do this 

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Kaimana

With fistfuls of ocean, I scrub
the soles of my feet— 
exhausting flakes for the fish food 
watching the waves lose pieces 
in a fist fight with the breeze. 
I got a whole lotta sand 
to figure things out. 
The sun will wait for me 
patiently kissing umbrella clouds
til my blue towel be set near that low wall. 
Not for the first time do I wonder 
how long this will last. 

Harnessing light from underneath garage doors
I slide myself gently into the sea. 

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What It’s Like to Get Hit by a Car

Setting

Cliff-side Northern California, chilly on a Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Cloudy, but not densely so.

The Redwood Highway snakes out from the Eel River and tangles with Eureka, ending somewhere along the 101 in Oregon. This highway is not only for cars. A punchy yellow sign declaring “Share the Road” (as in cyclists, please share with the cars) is stapled in every five to ten miles.

As this road makes up a large section of the Pacific Coast Cycle Route, cyclists are a common occurrence. Why select the highway for this route? The other options include (and are limited to) lagoons, farmland, or the Mendocino Mountain Range. 

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Start Here

Beginning is the most difficult. 

Here is this vision, this goal, this dream.

Here is the triumphant ending, here are the quick montage days of the “normal” middle, and here is the second breakfast on the unusually warm day and the little boy passing a granola bar through the car window while I rest my bicycle against my thighs at the traffic stop. 

What is that, there? 

What is that beginning but an unsanctimonious attempt at convincing the masses (yourself very much included) that the end goal is achievable, somehow, someday you will get to those middle days. 

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Wright’s Beach

If I am caught
hold tight the strings
against the seagull’s squalor

and tight against
the fading light. The children
shriek a sandy progress

and to my expedite delight
the winds that harness
heaven’s hurry take these

piercing shrieks far from me.
Far, far above the landscape
the corners of me

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Surf Guru’s Three Rules

The waves on south shore Oahu are limp during the winter months.

Adrenalized surfing doesn’t take place until April (really mid-May), when surprise swells from the Tasman Sea rip into the bays of Waikiki and Ala Moana. Sudden waves barrel on top of longboards, chipping them against the coral heads exposed during low tide.

And such a surprise swell last April!

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Gutted

Three days before, the slip-on NR bicycle lamps on our handlebars were swiped. A neighbor reported seeing a black SUV pull up to the front of the apartment building and a man run to the back, trigger the motion sensor lights, and run back to the SUV. My landlady suggested other places we could secure our bikes, and we considered them. 

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On the Will to Move

Better to be an amateur.

Better to gather knowledge like a drink from the river on a hot day, fistfuls of books and essays on life itself.

Better to equip myself with “permission to continue”.

I stand near my kitchen window in Oahu, listening to zebra doves on the telephone wires outside cooing to each other in the midmorning breeze. The mountain trade winds sweep down the Manoa valley and fill our one-bedroom apartment. I have never before been so lucky. Or so itchy. So itchy for movement, for callousing my hands against the bicycle handlebars in the heat of noon. So itchy for sweat beads carving dust lines through my face. 

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The Road to York

 

Days ebb into days again
nothing so precious
all chokeholds relax —

I feel the spring breeze
become the spring breeze

the warmth of the morning sun
the morning sun.

With my eyes so rid of this fixity,
I see peripherally —

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Announcement!

Available in paperback and e-book, Articulated Soul is a collection of 50 poems in five categories (Kansas, Austria, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Hawaii). These poems catalogue the many fragrant emotions of living abroad on one’s own, the sites and smells, the insecurities. Supplementing the angst are 25 original collages, expanding the metaphor of influence and creativity.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the editors and publishers of various publications in which some of the material in this book first appeared: Anak Sastra, Jerry Jazz Musician, JMWW, Literary Yard, River City Poetry, Scarlet Leaf Review, Vita Brevis.

Please see “The Book” menu tab for more details, including contact information and pricing.

Starting April 23rd, I will cycle solo across the USA and thus transition to posting a mix of creative nonfiction and poetry. Please keep an eye out!

Peace and blessings,

Josie

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