when phoenix flooded

The transcendent anti-capitalist realist poems of when phoenix flooded range widely, both in subject and in form, driven by a fluid process of fragmentation and trasnformation through which they sprawl across the page, like the urban landscape where they’re set, and break apart before reforming with a new unity in a sonnet, an ode, a burning haibun. But even here, near the imperial border, as the world ends and St. Longinus walks into 7-11 with “blue tape around his bicep from giving blood” and a question for you, there’s light and joy, and there’s just enough time to joke about dancing on Joe Arpaio’s grave, may the day come soon. -Jamie Berrout

The Cold/ / any, any thing


The Cold will make you do any         thing,

any, any thing to feel just a little           warm.

The Cold has carried me to the bed of more than one     stranger,

The Cold has raised my mother’s hand to throw at me a        knife,

& it was The Cold which told prometheus to defy god and steal       fire.

Sometimes I wonder: is there anything that we need in being      cold?


When        cold,

we will beg, borrow or burn any      thing.

Wood, chairs, bones- if freezing, what wouldn’t you feed to          fire?

Would it be so bad to only  ever be      warm?

Who here has frost not confronted with its lonely, lonely       knife?

Would it be that bad, really that bad, if winter were a  stranger?


The         Stranger

was              cold.

Her               knife

cut     any    thing

to                 warm

Her                fire.


In the bright light of our burgled fire,

The Stranger

said to us:  The Warm

will some day kill The Cold.

We did not believe any thing,

and took her knife.


Can the future be seen in a        knife?

         In              a                         fire?

Is there any                                   thing


than eulogizing                                 cold

while some still cannot become         warm?


like                                        a               warm


through                                                           cold

butter,     we come,   again,   to the house of            fire,

      this time                                                stranger,

& ready                          to do any,            any thing.

/ / 

Some day, our great grandchildren will meet us in the shadow of the           fire,

and we will say,              as if to a stranger:

cold will make you do any,  any thing.


Nostalgia is the most insidious and american complex.


Nostalgia says: go back.                        

Wasn’t it nice?

Back then?                                   

Weren’t there             

Flowers?         Growing wild?

At the edge of our pen?


A working theory of history based on what I learned in the back of my friend’s box chevy on our way to practice in a barren field on irrigation day.

                              THE COLONIZER STRETCHES OUT BENEATH US

                BASKING IN THE LIGHT.

                              THE COLONIZER WHISPERS SWEET NOTHINGS,

                                            ASKS US TO SAY OUR NAMES.

                                                             ASKS US TO SAY OUR NAMES.

the colonizer tenses. eyes become tight as a needle. you pass thru like a rich man into heaven.

                U ARE WITHIN THE NEW WOMB;

                THE MIND OF THE GREAT CAT,

                              THE GREED DEMON

                              IN ITS NINTH LIFE,

                              SLAIN EIGHT THOUSAND

                                             TIMES &


                              TOWARDS THE VOID.

                U ARE WITHIN THE NEW WOMB.

                THE FOUNDRY OF THE FUTURE.

                THE ASSEMBLY LINE OF TIME.



                A REPLICA OF TOMORROW,


               WE BURN OURSELVES ON.

               THE COLONIZER BLINKS.


                                                                                                                        EXACTLY HOW YOU

                                                                                                                        REMEMBER       IT.


                                                                                       OUR LIGHT,

                                                                       BASKING LIKE A

                                                                       GREAT CAT IN ITS

                                                                       NINTH LIFE,

                                                                                      LAPPING UP

                                                                                      OUR SWEAT.


                             ASKS US TO SAY OUR NAMES.

                              What’s wrong?

a cat’s got our mother’s tongue.


a light

a light                             a burning haibun

a burning Haibun is a poetic form invented by Torrin L. Greathouse.  In a burning haibun,
the poet writes a prose poem, that erases into a poem, that erases into a haiku.



when i met god i lied and kept going.  when i met god i gave her five dollars.  i said sorry that’s all i got,
n kept going.  when god asked for my name i could barely hear myself.  when god left i finished my
churro and my pizza and lit my last spliff.  when god waved goodbye to me, i smiled back at her and
adjusted the box of stolen panties in my bag.  when god watched me go, i had numbers on my mind.
this number for that day and that number for this day and that day for these numbers and these
numbers for those days and those days for some number.  i don’t know enough to care. god laughed
and grabbed her lovers ass while i rushed off. god will i be rich? and god, if i am rich, will i be gracious
enough to not lie when you ask for a dollar? how many dollars will you ask for before i lie? how many
dollars will you ask for before i ask you for a dollar?  how many dollars will i ask for before you lie?
god? god you’re not listening, are you? god, are you in love? god? god will the earth flood again? god?
god will babylon fall? god where will we go when the tower wrecks on shoreless seas? god? god? god?
do i have to choose, god, between love and a dollar? that is the only choice, isn’t it?  to love a day. oh
god. to love a day enough to not ask for another. oh god. the sun, god, the sun keeps rising. god, i
promised my mother’s dog i would introduce her to another dawn. you understand, don’t you? why
did i lie? god what am i supposed to do? give every dollar to every voice that asks? god knows my
pocket would be lighter. god, have i known suffering? god, this that i have known- is it suffering? 
god? god could you show me something? we’ll make a trade. i’ll show you every use for a dollar and
you’ll show me every use for a lighter.


when i met god i lied                                                                       i gave her five dollars                    said sorry

                and kept going.

                                                                                                   my last spliff                                    waved goodbye to


                these numbers                   don’t                      care                    enough                  to           lie.

                how many dollars              will you ask for


                                                                    the                          flood(?)

when the tower wrecks                                                                     choose

between love and a dollar                                                                                love a day

                                                  ask for another.

                                                                                                     I promised my mother dawn

                                                                                                     would be lighter.                           god? 

could  you                            trade                                        me                                          for  a lighter?



god lied                   said sorry

kept my spliff      for the flood

                                   and promised     a light

when phoenix flooded

children, younger than fear

and not older than the millennium,

dove into the parks

and swam.