The Gravel Diaries

by Martin Ott

The pen scratches a long-ago itch.
A one-eared dog brays at a coyote

invading his street.  The delivery
truck coughs too close for comfort.
I hid away in my room, lost in yellow,

the light stabbing villains and time
          washed pages.  A child’s toy dagger

hisses in the scabbard.  The LA River
gurgles in a tectonic bouillabaisse.
          My heroes for a time hid in spines.

Damp shirts on the balcony ululate
on a swinging noose.  An inconsolable

lover sighs only within earshot.
The wail follows me from when my husky
                    was put to sleep.  The smart phone quakes

in the middle of the night.  Shrapnel
whistles for its fleeing companions.

                    I read one book for each time I cleaned
          my rif le.  Gravel grinds its endless migration
back home.  Friends were lost to distance,

to madness, to drugs and to the ditch
I tossed things into when I fled the scene.

Losses pile up, rumble from yet another
subterranean port.  Passage is paramount.
Books saved me from the abyss.