“House at Night,” “My Life Map” and “Just Another Brunch”

“House at Night,” “My Life Map” and “Just Another Brunch”

House at Night

Gold-flecked dust ignites in waves.

I kiss my desert skin.

The coyote’s song lulls me

before I count the sheep.

The doorknob will turn

before the lock’s clasp

protects me from

what is inside.


Numb as a tortoise

who hides in his shell,

I take the bite of the rattlesnake

who breaks his fangs on my carapace.

I swallow the venom from his lips.

I consume his allotrope skin,

take in the flesh as taffy

between my teeth.


He dies as I play

his song,

“Papa was a Rolling Stone.”

The notes are tucked into a journal.

My cracked voice sings,

When he died,

all he left me

was alone.

My Life Map

The portrait of my childhood

resides in Thomas Brothers’ Guides

My home is carpeted in asphalt

and built with median walls

Take the 110, exit Slauson

to my birthplace

Head south on Vermont

and right on Manchester

for my elementary school

Imperial Highway to Dockweiler

Daily vacations and to watch

Dad drink wine and smoke weed

91 East to high school

91 West to leave high school

Park on Manchester and Prairie

to go to the track

Live at the motel across the way

Dad called me a whore on the sidewalk

Take El Segundo to Willowbrook

for Mom and Dad’s heroin

Take Manchester again for SSI checks

Go up LaBrea for Dad’s Sherms

Sleep in the car on Rosecrans

Off Century and Alameda to find Dad’s crack

Near LaCienega watch cancer eat away at Mom slowly

Sleep on the streets downtown on 7th

South on 405 to start over

Just Another Brunch


Every Sunday at brunch, we divide papers

Washington Post, New York Times

This week I take the Times

“Paris Attacks…”

I thought I woke in 1942

Reading on

“Military on Patrol - City in Lockdown”

One was a migrant - Syrian passport

Life taken by fear

Life stolen by the fearful

“They did not give anybody a chance”

Fifteen killed mid-meal



The results are live

Wilted roses rest

in bullet hole

cracked glass

serving as memorials

People try to understand the difference

“We love life”

“They love death”

They come after us

First through our computers

Then they come

with bombs and guns

Parisian Police tremble in confusion

and we are reminded

“This is not Islam”


Mid-morning I feel the bliss

of paper and ink

between my fingers

Reading lives I know

only through words

Tasting the sweetness

of pancakes and honey

on my lips

He sits across from me

absorbed in the Post

forking away at steak and eggs

while my lemon slice settles into

the ice at the bottom of my

water glass

About the Author

Katerina Canyon

Katerina Canyon is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. She grew up in Los Angeles and many of her poems reflect that experience. From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started the Shouting Coyote Poetry Festival and ran several poetry readings in the area. After her term as Poet Laureate, she went back to school and earned a B.A. in English, International Studies and Creative Writing from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Folks. Her poetry has recently been published in CatheXis Northwest, The Esthetic Apostle, Into Void and Black Napkin. Her latest book, Changing the Lines, a joint project with her daughter, which features a collection of poetry and artwork, can be found on Amazon.com.

Read more work by Katerina Canyon.