at the end of the devil’s breath

by Romaine Washington

…july.
wilted cereal in a bowl / we
drown in brown boiling milk. 
the haze of sparklers and fire- 
works add to the deafening heat 
that drips into

august.
caged in by smog,
air smells of cigarettes and melted tar. 
surely this place is meant to 
ignite.

september,
when he arrives,
he thinks this is a flat plain, 
where desert dirt covers everything like snow
and sweat is meant for breathing. 
but then-

october,
and the devil’s breath laps up lotion, 
claws skin with its vicious teeth. 
yowling roofs beat whoosh and 
bend of threatened windows. 
tree leaves sound like ocean.
stripped-dry littered bare limbs.
the hard ones snap, ripe for a switch.
usedtabe gangs of tumbleweeds ran the streets;
now, solitary wadded balls of rootless limbs roll by.

november 
is a postcard miracle,
surrounded snow capped crisp sky 
where our eyes hang glide like eagles.
we perch low in the valley shadow 
straining to see 
the walk of fame.
sunset and hollywood.
palm springs.
peer into the pier of the pacific.
every mountain peak is
paramount. he says,
if it weren’t for the devil’s breath, 
i’d never know
where we are, and
just how beautiful

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