What are you scanning for? Everything, she says. Right now,
we are on a boat somewhere between Los Angeles and
Pimugna & colonization has a way of turning an ocean into an appetite.
Right now, I am fixated on a man [yes.] who is sitting adjacent
and what his hands are doing near his large black backpack.
He has the look, she whispers in my ear. Here the ocean is so vast,
time is not a part of the equation, yet he returns to his watch
every two minutes as if searching for the appropriate time
to make autobiographers of our imagination. We don’t stay
long enough to find out. This time, I am not sorry
for my candid conceptions. That’s why you are here,
I’ll be honest, he was made the shooter before we knew
he had a gun. This poem wants only the truth or an ignant rendition
of it. On the eve of Juneteenth in the same month as a mass shooting
somewhere, I sit in view of a cruise ship. It’s mouth large enough
to envelop the entire coast. A man out of view:
[siri] things to do on Catalina
as if the land hadn’t surrendered enough of itself already. Fact:
Pimuvit are a Native American tribe who made home of Pimu. Fact:
“the modern era” refers only to stolen land and what it might provide.
—Are they still native if we call them “American”? This poem wants
only the truth and what it might cost. This poem wants only its skin
back. My only proof of survival is these words. Their only proof
of survival is this poem: scar tissue; a memorial plaque.
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Daniel B. Summerhill, a poet and scholar originally from Oakland, CA., whose work has appeared in Columbia Journal, Obsidian, Academy of American Poets and elsewhere, is the author of Divine, Divine, Divine (2021) and Mausoleum of Flowers (2022). A Baldwin fellow, he is Assistant Professor of Poetry/Social Action & Composition at California State University Monterey Bay and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Monterey County.
Photo credit: Rohan DaCosta