Steffi Drewes


what is it about the desert, its inherent thrum and unblinking eye that draws you in?

what is it about the way he chimes rutabaga when we ask what rhymes with Studebaker? (That’s what I’m talkin’ about, man, these vegetables had wheels.)

what is it about a needle under the pillow?

what is it about O and sometimes Y?

what is it about the waver in her voice, the hitch in muscle memory, that makes me dream of nettles?

what is it about waking up to a new latitude?

what is it about lyric and long time no seascape?

what is it about the pitch of the television and neon hovercraft paintings that sends the little ones into a cheering fit?

what is it about a handful of sand?

what is it about archaeological digs overlapping with arch-enemies?

what is it about mustn’t dare say so and i see you everywhere?

what is it about nuzzling the honeysuckle?

what is it about crepuscular creatures knowing how to track my pulse?

what is it about a knapsack full of letters and unsung allegiances lodged in her frontal lobe?

what is it about loose tooth, stubborn truths and thistle roots?

what is it about my hands making shadow puppets that makes you think I’m lying?


This is how I am placed where
late afternoons lay waste to picket fences
slipknot & sky tremor seconds before storm

cherry pits drumming pavement or the impulse
to holler how can I make it look real
drawing raw sun & thunder

hooked on harnessing desperate sounds
disparate gopher holes caving in over the airwaves
some throat of earth constricting she says

sideways climb inside the shape of surly
pretty smash into ripening pluck seed after seed
little hammer tooth stone-kept snail

I am not without I without milkweed or
marsh hawks or half what wonders I am
the one who ran the night through

others’ strangeling foundation every
sidewalk cracked sigh or how tumbleweeds held us
if I am the back of this breath & no ordinary deep

young thing, why must you wither so
watching animals and insects go quietly blind
why bury my telescope deeper than that

pry into cabinets & collect what is yours
sketching rooms with a rusty needle
learning entire oceans with one ear

see this thistle is well it’s a weed or white fur I am
making my way toward the now approaching never
flexing tornados & swallowing quicksand

dreaming handfuls of teeth & coughing up
petals snug seed I’m the loophole
in the dime smack you never saw coming

slow mustering shade in thundering snowdrifts
& fever-lit coils still spine willowy how is it
that I am lip filth yet hollow so well


Even if the siren comes in every shade imaginable learning to shrug it off
the last line of sleep bitten tendril of your message something about a stolen

painting lonely skeleton of the cathedral kind brushing up on kindred palettes
selling palindromes just to scrape by cut in line to keep a lid on o holy bubble

of rage becoming pinkness pop goes the windchime goes the sinewy fairy tale
at work sounds like not enough meat on the bones not enough juice go for

the jugular big sound bytes to blanket what tragedy develops over native
burial grounds and through the woods to the insatiable sitting duck give a

real good howl for BK BBQ coloring air covering ancestors with a little
red sauce on your chin aw shucks! what a funny way to remedy wanting

it to stop once and for all the neighbor’s gnawing on that damn gui-tar
re-tracing footsteps all afternoon and my screen door getting slap happy

summer breeze to the tune of somewhere over the gravity in our veins
what a pretty parking ticket soft thingamajig the city tried to shake loose from me

did you hear Dennis Hopper’s art collection went up in flames i like art so much
it hurts halfway between the pineapple club and peddler’s bravado anyone got a light

take Libya take my whole life too every vowel every second of the day honest
in anticipation of a storm wrote circle so many times i could hardly see straight

Steffi Drewes’ chapbooks include Cartography Askew (Spect! Books, 2013) and History of Drawing Circles (Edible Engines Press, 2012). She is also the founder of Featherboard Writing Series and manages the Writer-in-Residence program at Aggregate Space Gallery in Oakland.