Todd Fox, a teacher and writer, is a product of Long Beach State’s MFA program (1999). Excelling at eating and sleeping, but needing to do less of both, he continues to look for a better, more effective way to push the square wheel forward. His poetry has been published in Sheila-Na-Gig, First Class, Heeltap, The Brobdingnagian Times (from Cork, Ireland), Angleflesh, and elsewhere. Beyond poetry, he is making steady progress on the American poet Gerald Locklin’s biography, but there’s lots to do there. A visual catalog of Locklin’s work, which was the impetus for the biography project, can be accessed at www.geraldlocklin.org.
The Girl at the Coffee Shop
Who told me she found a new job
Leans forward on the counter, saying my order
Before I do: “Large French roast over ice, right?”
I ask, “Is this it?” She forces a smile, her eyelids
Meeting slowly. They touch, then reopen.
“Wish me luck,” falls off a breath her mouth
Previously held captive.
Her brown hair is pulled back loosely. Longer strands
Wrap around the bundle as wispy threads dangle in her face.
I attempt to plead, “Don’t leave,” but cannot evict the words.
Grabbing my waiting coffee, I look into its blackness
And smell the bitterness as the hot aroma condenses and cools.
Looking up, I say “Good luck.”
The sun momentarily forces it way through a cloud bank,
Thick and gray—then is forced back, like a solicitor
Getting the front door slammed in his face.
Why I Like Champagne
Corks don’t go back in.
The Color Surrounding You
(For Julie Kimball)
I see you, standing alone,
Tall, with platinum hair, against
The haze of a cadmium-cerise sky.
I was alone that night, too.
Our empty hands could have held
Each other’s—fingertips tracing the outline
Of lips and shoulders, soft, round, smooth.
Nightfall appeared Sloe-black,
Then finally, just black.
You wait alone, forty minutes
After sunset on a Sunday in late August.
The heat of the asphalt warms your sandaled feet,
Toenails painted emerald green.