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Joe Cottonwood

Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. He may talk to redwood trees. His latest book of poetry is Random Saints.

Sika hires me

to “shape up” her time capsule house
now that she’s widowed from, she says,
67 years of functional marriage.”

Crusty pipes, knob-and-tube wires
eke out driblets of water and voltage.
I mustnt change the vibe, she says,
the blond wood soul of 1950s ranch house
because, Sika says, Fifties was functional.”

Sometimes, says Sika, she and Gino would argue
until they realized they werent angry, merely hungry,
so together they’d cook an omelette.

Sometimes in bed Sika would awaken
because Gino was thinking. She’d say
Gino, stop thinking so I can sleep.”

When Gino got snappy like a lobster
they’d drive an hour to the ocean
so he could wet his gills body-surfing
while Sika studied tide pools, and did I know
barnacles have a penis 8 times their body length
so they can reach their unknown neighbors?
If only people, she says, maybe sex
wouldn’t be so damn awkward.

Sikas like a playful long-haired cat
unashamed to pause for licking private parts.

I tell Sika I need to open up walls.
Breaking eggs will be messy but when Im done
the omelette will taste as great as you remember,
function in ways you will not see.
Sika says, Precisely.”

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