FALL 2009

Floyd Salas


Flower of no name
sticking up out of the dry weeds
at the side of this dusty road
silver-weeded skeleton plant
out of my past

You and that single red-quilled blossom
blooming out of that spiked collar
of thorn-tipped leaves
covered with mold
at the peak of your barbed stalk

I first knew you
when I was nine
and carried a red lunch bucket
down the SP right of way
through a northern California boomtown
by the Shasta Dam
before the Second World War
on my way to school in the morning

Walking between the rusty
never used all rainy winter
train tracks
kicking at gravel pebbles
between the new ties
stopped to stare at the spiked flower
which sprouted up by a track switch
in the early part of the year

green as the spring it grew with
but stiff as a spear
with buds like stones
by horned leaves
frightening to a boy
raised on gangster movies and indians

I watched your pin-cushion flowers
change colors
with each spring shower
and darken
with the red-dusted days
of a hot summer

Pinked blossoms
grew redder
and warmer
then darker
deep purple
as the first hue of night
by that midsummer
as I recall
looking at you now
hollow skeleton

tall as me grown up
only the bony shaft
of that one dry stem left
but still holding up
a quilled blossom
the color
of my living heart

Floyd Salas is an award-winning author of seven books, including the novels Tattoo the Wicked Cross, What Now My Love, Lay My Body on the Line, and State of Emergency, the memoir Buffalo Nickel, and two books of poetry, Color of My Living Heart and Love Bites: Poetry in Celebration of Dogs and Cats. A 2002-2003 Regent’s Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, as well as staff writer for the NBC drama series, Kingpin, he is the recipient of NEA, California Arts Council, Rockefeller Foundation, and other fellowships and awards. He is a founder and president of the multicultural writing group, PEN Oakland.




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