Larry Colker


Larry Colker





New Address


Blood was never simple,

in their battles,


one thimble half-full,

one half-empty.


Sometimes things just

end, but we name it


change, to be kind,

pretend the stain


is no biggie, ha-ha,

just blood, simple


to bleach out. To

beseech would betray


their new skins. So

no one wins. It’s


simpler that way. Truce,

not truth is how


a blood feud ends, a botched

birth. In boxes he sends


to a new address, she’ll find

jade, and tooth, and earth.



From Amnesia and Wings (Tebot Bach, 2013)






Often I am reminded of you, Ulysses

bound to mast, enraged to tears by beauty

you cannot live without, and must. I, too,


may find myself aboard a ship whose crew

Hears not, sees not, cares not for beauty.

I, too, long to be headed home, to Greece,


afraid to find that all I loved is lost,

returning anonymous to her I wooed,

a shade of one called far away by duty.


Often I am reminded of you, Ulysses,

by wrecked men in empty lots

begging the voices in their heads to cease,


shouting to drown out the terror of their beauty.








He reaches across the café table

to tuck the woman’s hair behind her ear,

an old habit. She bats his hand away.

“It’s not that easy,” she says.

A fly tours the rim of his demitasse.

He bats it away with his little finger.

“Right,” he says, “it’s not that easy.”




“Look, it’s easy,” says the man, buttoning the child’s shirt.

The child watches his father’s eyes, not his hands,

does not want to make his father unnecessary.

The father misunderstands the child’s gaze.

“Right,” he says, “it’s not that easy.”




In the hospital room the woman leans over the bed

to tuck her mother’s hair behind her ear.

“I know it’s not easy,” she tells her mother.

The older woman stares into her daughter’s eyes,

thinking, “It’s too easy.”




The mother lies in the ground.

The woman lies to herself.

The child lies in his bed.

The man does not know when he is lying.











Contributor Note: Larry Colker has co-hosted the weekly reading Redondo Poets at Coffee Cartel, in Redondo Beach, CA, for 17 years. His first book-length collection, Amnesia and Wings, was published by Tebot Bach (2013). His work has appeared in Rattle, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Sun, and has been widely anthologized, most recently in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Suzanne Lummis, ed. (Pacific Coast Poetry Series, an imprint of Beyond Baroque, 2015). In 2007 his entry won the California Writers Exchange Contest, sponsored by Poets and Writers, Inc.


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