California

By CRALAN KELDER
During this past visit to California, I visited a friend who has been incarcerated since 1985 – for 25 years. In prison, he isn’t allowed to physically handle money, so when we take a break from walking laps around the visiting room and get in line by the vending machines to treat ourselves to hot drinks, he has to stay behind a red line with 
OUT OF BOUNDS painted in large all cap red letters. I pull out my ziploc bag of quarters and dollar bills and am at a bit of loss for ordering our hot drinks because a code is required on the keypad, so my friend leans forward with a wry grin, saying “*#JE-as in Echo-3” in rapid succession. I insert the coins and punch in these digits-which magically produce him a hazelnut coffee with whipped milk and extra sweetener. He laughs with pleasure and says, “I feel like I am the leader of a very small country.”

 

Cralan Kelder is the author of Give Some Word. His work has recently appeared in Zen Monster, Poetry Salzberg Review, and VLAK, among other publications. Kelder currently edits the literary magazines Full Metal Poem and Retort. He lives in Amsterdam with the evolutionary biologist Toby Kiers and their children.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 02 here.]

California

Related Posts

Brazilian Poets in Translation

ELIANE MARQUES
Don’t carry large umbrellas (neither at night nor during the day) / They might seem to be an AR-15 rifle or an HK submachine gun / Don’t use drills / They can be confused with a pistol and the bullets being fired / Don’t carry bags / They can suggest that you’re carrying a bomb

poetry feature image

October 2020 Poetry Feature: JinJin Xu

JINJIN XU
And another alights on the sidewalk, / another alights, I step around their outlines / into our next life - om mani padme hum / you emerge from the red dawn to shake open my life, / upside down, flying dust, you unlock / the red cell, cameras light up one by one

Dive

JENNIFER PERRINE
We parked and followed the unlit path, / Hansels and Gretels flocking, hungry, / to our gingerbread shack, sweets hidden / behind a plain façade, unmarked save / for a rainbow draped over the door.