Breadcrumb #503

CINDY TRAN

I stepped into the lamp-flooded night to watch my dad smoke
and stood in the driveway, in the long middle of his shadow.

It was spring. A smaller shadow hopped. I ran after it,
laughing, a bunny, a bunny! I ran back to my dad

and asked him to help me catch it. He went
inside and came back out with a cardboard box,

oily from bobbins, throat plates, and stop latches.
Together, we ran down our street, chasing a
long-eared

shadow, lit by living room lights. I looked inside the box and the
bunny looked at me. What should we name her?

伊是兔. It doesn’t need a name. I named her Bunny
Rabbit, thinking I was clever like my dad, who once
said

he named me 美華, true, familiar, and foreign to him. At
home, the lights were off. And in bed, I heard the night

bite into a cigarette at the stove. I heard Bunny Rabbit
scratch the cardboard as if to dig down—I turned to my side

and hoped for a different name. Six months later, she
died, but I didn’t know why or how except that its teeth

grew so long, it looked like a baby brown
walrus sleeping on its side. When I told my dad
the 兔

had died, he shrugged and stamped out his
cigarette by my mom’s rose bushes.

• • • • • •


Breadcrumb #500

BRONTE BILLINGS

She looked up inside the skull,
light seeping through thin brown
marrow making umber veins
that reminded her of the back
of her mother’s knees.

Australopithecus, her little hands
plastered to the glass. Knuckles
knocked to smudge display cases, her
father chewed the syllables for her, uh-fah-ren-sis.
Say it with me.

He lifted her slight body
limbs locked around his neck.
You almost did it. He wasn’t
a liar, not like most
giants. He used big words

drew out the letters in
her soup. Each meal a different
word: Inguinal, Umbilicus, Iliac. She listened
to his voice drone, spoon spinning
words away.

Next, look here. We look
outside the bones
. Anticipation
shook her, shrunken figures reaching
out with brown muffed hands.
It was nothing like her mother.

He took her to the bodies, displayed
figures marked Orrorin tugenensis,
Ardipithecus ramidus, Paranthropus robustus,

fabricated skin and carpet hair, she touched
her forehead to the top of their skull.

So much hair, she tangled her fists
in brown patches. It wasn’t
all there, clay flashes of
flesh, she pinched her own
pinkness looking for a match.

We don’t have it all anymore, hands
deep in her curls, funny how it’s knots
on our head
. She knew the other places. Secreted
parts of herself she knew not to
touch. Some names she memorized

myometrium, exocervix, ectopic—this
looked nothing like her pictures.
There was his wide gap grinning we all
come from somewhere. But it wasn’t here,
but he wasn’t a liar, but her mother’s knees,

her mother’s velveted skin, her
mother’s fat curls, her mother’s
hot breath, her mother’s skull
he promised it’d be like
her mother’s face.

But it wasn’t. Australopithecus,
small and furry and brown
and not like her mother, not
like any mother. She pulled
his sleeve.

I want to go home.

• • •

Breadcrumb #494

GARY GLAUBER

There’s a vague sublimity to the whole endeavor.  
We could be anywhere or anyone.
Vacationers on rented time, casting reckless shadows.

Our boredom defines us like generational motto.
The last original movie was made thirty years before.
Everything animated has been updated to live action.

We are waiting for someone to bring our lives to action,
to remind us that friends are not merely extras,
actors for hourly hire eager for the security of work.

Together we explore sideline concepts of beauty
as related to a sad nearby water park.
We fear our own laughter while waiting in line.

This is a dark cloud of discovery:
your hillbilly past, my parental abandonment,
yet we toast our childhood challenges together

and float down what they call “the lazy canal,”
a twisted backwoods Fallopian nightmare
with trance music piped in.

This is as close to nature as we’ll ever get.
Our own natures as well,
though we both like watching the weather.

It’s a seasonal pilgrimage
undertaken like some Ambien incident,
forgotten instantly, except for the heat.

We’re the new artificial wilderness,
substance formed via connected stories
that vanish like meaning after a day.

In the end, there is nothing left
but two contiguous bodies
watching cloud formations

as they turn into messages
that foretell of a prescient world
where everything suddenly matters.

• • •

Breadcrumb #492

PAULA PRYCE-BREMMER

Crescendos vibrate somewhere below the music in the
shadows like a subliminal underground railroad. No stars,
just cyclops moon. Open window, I stared into nothing—
thought about runaway slaves and their efforts to hide.
Bush, swampland stench and fire, fear of auction,
separation and the whip and I was there generations
away next to you on cracked leather seats as you
smoked Djarum cigarettes. I didn’t smoke but I loved
the taste they left in your mouth whenever we kissed,
which was more often than not. You can’t get those
cigarettes anymore in the United States. I inhaled, drew
all that I was into myself from the heated breath of the
wind and tried to make sense of the shadows.

• • •

Breadcrumb #491

MONCHO ALVARaDO

I held forty years of woman in my hands
feet blazed copper from ten hour shifts,
I would massage Vaporub, feel each crack,
scrape, cut, blister, sneaker mold & corn

Ama’s breathing: a bouquet of air
longing, a bloom I learned
from her with every breath:  
a simple forever   

hands a dusk, open   
nothing, save possibility  
when she would dinner:
pieces of meat with bone, water,  

chile verde sauce: savory in shades,  
the bone velvet on my tongue, opens
to marrow: coarse and soft like soil,   
I sucked the dying   

& let go of words:  
a nakedness in hot desert,
brilliant rays bleed on me
the ritual of sacrifice,  

a towards, a refusal,
a never, a courage,   
born with all this, oh
Ama, I’m still
learning  

light exhausts into everything,  
expecting nothing back

• • •