Chinese Restaurant off Panama Lane

heat wave wobbly
legs swinging off
a click clacky chair,
clacking onto tile with each swing

checkered floors
terracotta baked in airborne
grease and rubberized filth tracked
by a thousand shoes acquainted with an
asphalt mirage

I wait for my dad to come back
from the Wal-Mart next door.

Dido and fried rice waft through
our shared furnace
glaze firing the interior

pyroprocessing us in batches
as tangerine slides to marigold

I watch the door, searching for a flag
in the off white of the paint

Dido tells me not to surrender
I’m ten and I don’t know
what she means.

I’ve never seen a sinking ship
in Bakersfield
but shadows wobble and churn
black squares are murky waters
the scuffle of plastic containers
are ships harboring delicious
passengers kung powing their way
to the ground and squeaky sneakers

I count the white tiles.
By the time my dad comes back,
I’ve counted 25 of them

and not a single one of them
is above the door.


Fishing on a Sunday

tugged on the line, stripper silver,
catfish jade, jaded, traded, dumped into
the ice chest with
joints as structurally sound as legos
in hands that are wind blow, blew away
shambles of a body whose
ashes are grey out, black out
resting on wooden floors
engorged by California loaned
moisture, California parched
incorporeally present,
buffeted by dust twirled wind,
adorned in chicken wire,
flay a wire, like my father taught me
and bait myself on the hook,
chicken liver quartered and
flavored; stabbing
with hands that are wind blow, blew away
shambles of a body whose
parts are sprinkled along the bottom
of canals that sear the expanse of the valley
racing down farmland roads,
decades of a body that’s
quilted green and yellow,
measured in telephone wires
strung moon lit quince pretty
over stalks of corn and rows
of grapes, baking right beside
the freeway, sweetway,
facing back roads,
whirlwinds of dust
with hands that are wind blow, blew away
shambles of body that’s
more fish than food
freckled waters like
tortoise shell plates of perpetual
watching as I drop more
of me into the future’s
of several thousand
almond trees, blooming
like snow, breathing its
fevers into my lungs
summer boiling structures
down to fertilizer
down to flood
body more land than me
body more plant matter than me,
not scales, not shells, just
a woman unforeseen


Fabiola Madrigal lives in Wasco, California with her three cats. Currently she’s trying to figure out life after college, and relearning all the things she loved about California. You can find her on twitter @fablednixie.