Soft Chaparral

Tasia Trevino


Several sphinxes,

dragged to the dunes by DeMille. Buried in spite. Then buried in indifference. They wait, chthonic. At the Occidental center. Excavation not allowed. Eviction notice served to the clam suckers. Unable to conjure Lemuria. This is now a refuge. Pre-Portolan restoration. Sea bird tracks dainty in the sand shelves. Snowy little plovers. Ice plant invasion. I dream the stabilizers get extinct. I step over the low-slung stake fence to find the city. The dune hills remove context. No speech here but a torn black balloon. Its stretch over the sky. Punctuation of residual Perseids. The dunes open to me. My mantic mothers. 21 sphinxes, 12 feet tall. I lay all night on the oil puddled at their 33-pound-paws. They see me a world without water. Could carpet be a desert? If it’s long enough in your mouth.



Hoarse barks,

slap the street. Ring the harbor. The sea lions pace the length of their concrete tank. Sun stars dull behind the glass. At the shell shop, glossy cowries strung on fishing line. Piled angel wings. Cockles caught elsewhere by spurts of cyanide. Shipped in sacks. Dumped into bins. Dive my fingers into the shifting mounds. You pack my mouth with salt water taffy. Tame my hair with surf wax. On the catamaran, we scatter. Respectful memorials at sea. Remains just beyond the break. Views of the tied island. Its contested face. Views of the triple cigarette smokestacks that loom above the bay. Their blinking red tips. Abandoned in their tasks. End the avenue. I seasick walk its length. Trail clatter of sand dollars. Bits of blown glass. A flock of tethered cormorants. And who should climb this rock? How could the records show?



Condos get,

built on the bluffs. By the Kristin Smart Memorial. Her unfound body may be sealed in concrete in a nearby backyard. Or bones picked clean and scattered beneath the Poly ‘P.’ Or else. At the seaside resort, I ask to be moved to the table with the ocean-view. I ask to be buried under a manzanita. Lick someone else’s waxy lipstick off my wine glass’ rim. Pull mussels from their black shells with my teeth. Spit them onto the sand. Contort my tongue. Swoon into the lap of tide. Sift the sand for another way to say. I know how heavy my rain is. Enough to erode. Enough to expose. No fossils here, but a headless Apatosaurus cast in plaster. Enter to the caves down a staircase in its tail. An advertisement for the defunct lapidary shop. What gets built without permit? What occludes the view?



When I come,

tonight I think of Hearst Ranch. No rooms nor pools. Just the land, from the crest to the coast. Little herds of zebra and elephant seals. Monterey Cypress braced against the westerlies. I think of the pre-fall lighting and the expansive land. I think of being that big. I think of El Camino Real. 555 curved green poles with bells on the ends. Of being that long. Of mercury mines. I arch my head back onto your shoulder. I think of holding a nopal bulb in my right hand. I squeeze it. Then I try to flick it free. I flap my hand, try to unstick it. This turns me crazy. I prefer to be the direct object. I prefer Spanish construction. But what happens without choice. What belongs in my mouth. Which houses grow on my molars. What presses more space between my teeth. What raises my tongue, what depresses it.



A double-domed nuclear,

power plant springs from the curve of cove. Named in defiance. Cooled by seawater sucking through intake tunnels. Spat back 20 degrees warmer. It’s built by a fault. It doesn’t discern. Spits the Abalone Alliance back down the rocks. Has hot flushes. Uproots. Gets jellyfish sticking in its lungs. I scrape the crusted pleurae of mollusks in the dark. Nails drag the hissing concrete. Anemones grow on my gums. In my lacks. In the cove, you take me transitive. Bend my breastbone to a bow. Pin my elbows to my back. Stretch the skin of my torso. Giant kelp caress my hull. I implant myself with copper anchor. Then angle me in repose. Sleep me in the crease of sky and warmed waters. Stunt my benthic breathing. The cove turns in its sleep. Gulls bob in its wake. Serene behind the breakwater.




TASIA TREVINO is a writer and musician from the Central Coast of California. Her poems have/will appear(ed) in Fence, Prelude, Dream Pop Press, and She’s @initials_tt on Instagram.