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Friday, September 04, 2009


by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Pale orange light carved by leaves
makes pumpkin eyes on the sidewalk.
Cream-sicle orange, then bright orange crush.
More smoke billows up, soft and dirty,
a standing ovation you can see from Vegas.
L.A. : every live act gets a standing ovation.

The air smells—ashtrays, old fireplaces.
Ash sifts down, fine grit lays down a rash.
You find it all over everything’s skin, like cursed dander.
The sun has turned into a cut pink guava,
this year's false harvest moon.
The moon pretends to be in eclipse

Neighbors thought they didn’t have to run,
rashly thought they could face off the fire,
somehow it would leave them standing,
thought we’d return with their standing ovation.
Nothing alive still standing. The dirt is charred,
the trees ashen from the fire-storm, stripped pillars.

Running shoes melted, dishwasher skeletons,
orange trees made coals piled for barbecue.
Hills gone to hot orange heaps that smolder by night:
live coverage from Melrose, Hollywood, Vegas,
all sifted over with ash-fine grit.
The sun is an over-ripe guava.
Burnt hills are a standing ovation.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Claremont , California . In another life, she majored in German Lit so she could read poetry for credit, before making the seamless segue into psychology. Her poems and photos have appeared in O Tempora!, Superficial Flesh, Still Crazy, NewVerseNews, The Dirty Napkin, Umbrella Journal and Lilliput Review. A poem of hers was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize.