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I moved to Monterey in search of a fast

assault of images like in the fun spaghetti westerns

that my parents watched as children of the cold

war. saloons instead of bunkers, communism

without tomahawks, gunshots always as wide

and red as sparrow eyes.

on the ranch, I met a lone woman from Nebraska.

she had traveled twenty-six hours to watch

cannery row colts all night, waving back

and forth against the wooden posts that still needed

to be tied with fresh barbed wire. she talked

about her addiction to jack and gin, she said

it’s like holding back a team of horses.

she said, some of them you can break and some

you just can’t. one night, I found the woman

from Nebraska dead

crawled into her rented truck, watched her irises grow

with the sunrise. I looked her sparrow in the eye

and cried when the horses flew home like bullets


LILLIAN SICKLER is a Chinese-American poet, writer, and doula who recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Comparative Literature. Her work can be found in Cosmonauts Avenue, Ghost City Press, Vagabond City, Asterism, and Noble / Gas Quarterly, among others. She has an orange cat named Laika and a rambunctious beta fish named Sundae. Follow Lillian on Twitter.


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