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There Is A Creature In The Desert With The Sharpest Claws
Kolleen Carney

Image by  Dorian Kartalovski  

It doesn’t matter what chemical reaction
caught quick, the way the Santa Ana winds
fan a spark into a flame that decimates
southern California,

what domino effect became cells dividing
and dividing into the thing that would
become you, mewling red thing, 
it doesn’t matter—roots are just things

we spend lifetimes pulling up and
putting back down. What matters is your skin
that toughened with time, feet on the hard ground
and running, pointed nails like talons. Arms pushing

and climbing. Skin browned from the sun. Skin
no one can touch without being burned. Your feet
out the window of a speeding truck, the tinny radio
playing, Heavenly angels cryin’ above

tears of joy pourin’ down on us
as if the words themselves could slake your thirst
in the dry desert heat. Children playing matchbox
in the front yard as you sharpen your dogteeth—

even the gentlest animals
will gnash and bare
when backed into a corner. 

Kolleen Carney received her BA from Salem State University in Salem, MA. She most recently earned her MFA in Poetry from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She lives north of Boston, but her heart belongs to California. Her website is