“Well Enough to Travel”
In spite of as rite, a condition of black holes
and black eyes. The dog lives to walk herself
between breaths, her lungs near freezing.
The sissoo tree overgrows and leans to the left.
Artichokes survive but are too tough to eat.
The bougainvilla dies in the frost. What ruptures
the meteor is air, and I’ve found when you look
hard enough, you’ll find someone on an unfamiliar street
singing “Happy Birthday” on a day that is not your birthday.
All we carry, like infantry flung far and wide:
a white flag, an armistice watching the second hand.
Time to learn the names of ridges. Time to let the rope down
and follow the pinpoints of light, an exit sign illuminated.
It’s the only way out. Show me the desert, I say.
Jia Oak Baker is the author of the chapbooks Crash Landing in the Plaza of an Unknown City (Dancing Girl Press) and Well Enough to Travel (Five Oaks Press). Her work has appeared in The Good Men Project, Profane, Poet Lore, DMQ Review, Likewise Folio, and elsewhere. She received a 2015 grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and has also been awarded artist residencies from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation and Hedgebrook. Jia lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and teaches writing at Paradise Valley Community College.
Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Ceasura, Chariton Review, Redivider, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is currently Assistant Poetry Editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers and a poetry editor for Four Ties Lit Review. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.