I was suddenly back in bristles when I saw the egret floating, a stretched spline thrown down
or just knocked off. The threat was to crack my code, that back and forth convention
of the highway. From that throne of all-leaned-back, the chute was dropping.
Now a huge, drowsy brood of snowies spangles the cove; now the self falls absent from the car.
An unbroken seed-head. Shoots tossed outward. A solar system. To build planets here,
one forms galactically internal legalese. The willows go mass-hysterical, dragging their bodies down.
There is a teeter, and talk somewhere of legal easement, and then a flush of waves. Then it’s time
to stirrup in and lean. I am racing along. I am in the current. I am knee-deep not stirring up the water.
Her back is an ecosystem, algaeic and wrapped beneath a canopy’s sun.
Arms forever up and out above her head—she is this tall. No height,
no dangers below, will blanch the beast; she sees no fear.
A fall will seldom kill her. Nun ordained to pliancy, she’s slowness made devotion.
The monkeys run right by her, skitter-shows their onus; harpy hawks
with sudden plucks plunge, their hunger flown. It is true she cannot walk
—when basic need or poor luck grounds her, she’ll have to pull herself along the muck
of forest floor. So she hangs, even after life, from branches, fool-like, face to sky,
her backward-growing coat a woolish habit. Even at the tops
of trees, she blends in. She is cool, and shy seeming;
Her cry’s a sure ai, ai.
San Simeon Hill Zebras
Drifters, if they could be. Sometimes, when they think no one is watching, they near the barbed wire.
Hooves and hooves and hooves. A silent choir, a mass of muscle-held cellmates.
Their heads are full of high grass and long shadows. They dream of lowland lions grifting gazelle.
Behold the moiré bolting of the chain-gang jumpsuits —dust and dust and dust— safe in their target-striped caps!
C. J. Sage’s poems appear in The Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Threepenny Review, etc. The San Simeon Zebras was published by Salmon Poetry in March 2010. Sage edits The National Poetry Review and Press and works as a Realtor.