The High The Way

the high the way


Dust through my eyelashes,

fluffed out pollen


ride the coastline up

down a redwood between you, me

yellowjackets eat meat

we laugh


stop for baby woodpecker bird to save

you say “it’s got spots, it’s a woodpecker”

look up at me, chirp, empty throat, dry and blind

I got nothing to regurgitate, not a worm, not a dream


So die in the sun in the rock

we talk about spotted wings, where we could

pretend end ain’t here nor there, right ahead

right around the bend, Highway One the only end


Smell seaweed, smell dandelion, call it weed

sleep in a bathtub Chico, California

Zach with his blonde hair, “he’s like a Greek god”

slides his dick in and out of her


We listen, open door one inch, record it in inches in our minds

she screams towards the end biting off edged sheets, pillows

the bend, the end, the spotted wings, the high the way, the only way


God damn she had a beautiful ass at two a.m.


Rock hard in a river of viticulture cultural major majors

“I’d suck on her armpit hair,” I say, say again

just a cigarette this time

Keep on truckin’, shirt ripped, all us are, the girls figure it funny

throw algebra and barbed raccoons at my neck


Send Ingram south to Santiago

Ship Joey north to Santa Cruz

Sail Ben out east to Wilmington

No one cares about Chris, he’s lost his head in the big mix up

And pukes up blood when appropriate


Suck me back into the canyon, revolution bible,

Still long hair

Still pastrami with mustard

Still burritos with carne asada

Still beer with morning

Still spit with shadow in Baja

back and forth between mouths of strangers


I look like you, I am you

I’ve seen you before, I’m here

I like your drapes and dig your book

tear out a page and wrap my dead,

bury slightly in the arid ear,

say a prayer for suffocating lung under dirt


I lie I lie I lie

But I see Chris again, the sidewalk, the I-don’t-care

He-does-care, we dance around the inevitable

We shake hands under a streetlamp, flicks on too early

Los Angeles smaller in twilight

Still I wash my hands in moon

Pray for a drink, won’t kill me


Justin J. Murphy

Justin J. Murphy was born in London to a Lebanese father and Californian mother. Clearly, “Murphy” is not his real last name. He enjoys mountain life, cosmic vibrations, and good old rock and roll. His poetry and short stories have been featured in Epicenter, The Café Review, El Portal, and Sixfold as well as several other fine publications. His novel, Whiskey Jelly Blues, will be published in Fall 2018 by Owl Canyon Press and a second novel, Let Me Tell You How It Isn’t, will be published in Summer 2019 by Pelekinesis.

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