—for my brother Joey
What if there were no light, he wondered. Just sound & scent owning the night, without the invasive
Surf Shop green neon, or PCH streetlamps glowering at everyone.
Their glint was wrong, false, while the waves sounded
like aloe on a burn, a quick fix.
Some blue & some red lights also flooded the water—flashed
onto a surfer. Someone’s riding the barrel! Ricky? Anton? Robbie? he couldn’t tell—
they were all blond or blondish, lean. Kids.
If he were out there & they were
bent over this squad car, arms pinned back, cuffs cold & final,
those dudes could name him—stupid dark, stupid stocky, stupid
curls intense against his skull.
If he were out there, he’d Hit-the-Lip & hang a Soul-Arch,
a quick fix.
The water, when it was clean, could fix anything.
If he were out there he wouldn’t be 18 with his face away from the seaweed breeze, with his face
shoved into a back seat.
His sister’s voice floated up from the water, “Wherever you go
there you are.” Well, I’m not
going to jail, he thought as he was driven from the pilfered Surf Shop, the Pacific. I’m going to
ride a killer pipeline in Oahu. He was sure he’d get to
the past present future
torrent of the pacific in every direction.
Jennifer Jean is the author of a poetry collection titled The Fool. Her awards include a 2018 Disquiet Fellowship, a 2017 Her Story Is residency—where she worked with Iraqi women artists in Dubai—and a 2013 Ambassadors for Peace Award for her activism in the arts. Jean’s poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine,Rattle,Waxwing,Mud City Journal,Crab Creek Review, and more. She is the director of Free2Write Poetry Workshops for Trauma Survivors, is the managing editor of Talking Writingmagazine, and teaches writing at Boston-area universities.