“New South” March 2016

Estes-Bus-with-Reflection

 

 

Strange Towns

 

My sister came home from the bar and asked me to wash her hair. I was in the bath and she put her head over the side of the tub. Then she went to bed with it all wet in a tangled mess. I don’t know where she slept. Her boyfriend was in bed with another woman. But the girl was a friend and they were asleep, curled away from each other on the mattress. Maybe they got tired of waiting up for her. I can imagine who she was out visiting; an ex who always seemed to know what city she was in. And my sister said—“Is it wrong, to be sad when you see your boyfriend in bed with someone else?” “No,” I said. It was a girl they drank beer and rode bikes with. (How can people have such normal lives, I thought to myself). She— this normal girl— all golden hair and smiles, had helped me break in a pair of pointe shoes on a doorframe in Silver Lake on a warm fall evening. That night I said I wanted to stay inside, while everyone was out on the patio talking and laughing; I don’t know why. The music made me feel a certain way. When my sister was closing the door I said, “Leave it open so I’m not separated from you.” She rolled her eyes and floated away, drink in hand. The walls were green and the room seemed lopsided. There was the air conditioner whirring in the window frame. Christmas lights were strung up on the hill, palm trees silhouetted against the hazy Los Angeles skyline that seemed to drop off into nothing. I could never understand her for that; for living in such a strange town, where it’s hard to tell what happened in the past, where people disappear, walking in silence under the burning sun and violet clouds.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, Digital Americana, and other American literary journals. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Indiana Review and Short, Fast & Deadly . She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

 

(image: Richard Estes)

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Fresno Poems: houselights, songs and weather

(Featured in Lungfull!, Backwards City Review, and Short, Fast & Deadly)

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We Lived

We lived in a sweltering heat, a bright dry heat burning the life out of the day. You could hear the high whine and hum of people running the air conditioning. We ran in and out of their houses. No one walked outside, just some soundless teenagers sometimes, in t-shirts. The streets were empty and glaring. The canals rushed and sparkled.

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west & vassar: how the san joaquin saved my life

 

when we show up these songs are already playing. everything is yellow and it is always in the way. some of it is broken and none of it is consequential. we leap through the house wearing a path between the inner and outer worlds. by daylight it disappears and all the objects are exhausted. the blinds are drawn over an indifferent scene. who says we weren’t tired and lonely? I came to the valley during its freeze and flew down blackstone high, catching something under the human heart, that dead and dying space. I’d brought his dumb memory to the world.

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subsolar mornings

we were watching an unfamous performer in pamela basmajian’s living room while the sun nailed itself through our heads in madera county. it seemed like life was going to go on this way forever: incessantly. during what we called the start of day, a hot smog stretched itself over the valley. everybody was going to church that summer. they said, make yourselves at home.

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Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.