Thing & Other Poems


To her, the neighbor’s flowering bougainvillea is a reminder of the fondling she suffered at the hands of a different neighbor when she was five,

the dim bedroom stifling with July heat, red and orange candy on the dresser, magenta blossoms trembling on a long slender branch beyond the window frame, the sky mute, blue, unreachable.

To her husband, it’s an ordinary blooming plant, easy on the eyes, even glorious in the soft evening light when lavender air and papery pink petals wrap themselves together like a birthday present for a young child.

So when on their walks his wife pauses and stares at the neighbor’s glowing bougainvillea, he naturally assumes she is marvelling at the same wonderful



Sun on my barren scalp

snapping of the neighbor's clippers

drone of an unseen plane up there in all that blue

the sun is too hot

so I slouch in the shade of my son's quilt hanging wet over the cobwebbed railing

made by Grandma's arthritic fingers

over a year of measuring, cutting, sewing, pulling

left too long in the dryer its sourness pervades this page

but with a little work this moment too

can become sweet.

Outside the Box

down the long undulating tunnel slides a spirit, landing with a thud inside a warm, sterile box.

the spirit is taken home to a softer box, where it is rocked inside an even smaller box, smiling and whimpering in formless dreams.

the spirit plays in cardboard boxes and sandboxes, gazing open -mouthed at pigeons circling the spire of the courthouse beyond a grove of sycamores.

all too soon the spirit is sent to be educated in a large rectangular box, where it becomes adept at drawing perfect squares and cubes and other inferior and soon forgotten shapes.

spirit graduates from one box into another, and another, walking across the squared-off campus to where it sleeps in a shared box with another baffled spirit, peering together at raindrops meandering down the window, the lush wash of sycamores bending beyond the glass.

spirit leaves the learning box and boxes itself into a large up-ended shoebox of a building, stares at a glowing box 10 hours a day

(taking a break at noon for a nice box lunch), then drives a wheeled box to the box store to buy a box of chocolates for its box-crazy spouse,

but first stops for a quick workout at a sprawling box near the mall -- staring up, panting, at a colorful box on the wall and the flickering ghosts of other spirits trapped inside their boxy lives.

decades pass.

a hollow body is laid to rest inside its final box, eased into the supple ground with the rippling worms and tangled roots of sycamores tossing their brown heads in the cold autumn air above,

while a liberated spirit glides along the ample hip of the ancient, curvaceous Earth.

Scott Waters lives in Oakland, California with his wife and son. He graduated with a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Scott has published previously in Adelaide, The Pangolin Review, A New Ulster, Amethyst, Ink in Thirds, Praxis, Shot Glass Journal, The Santa Clara Review, and other journals.