California Christmas

Noah Warren

A year of rain in an hour.
Then dawn. On the Quikcrete
patio a leaden mirror.

The jelly palm’s big fronds
flap like bad wings.

“Jelly Palm.” A truly ugly day,
but day,

visible:
reefs of cloud
scud off the ocean to decay.

Even Paul and Frankie get bitter
and prankish: they devour the butter
quietly as we have neutral sex,
later claw the pleated blinds.

Naked we watch leaves
of different sizes whirl
around the yard—as a gust
shudders the bougainvillea,
shakes down green lemons
that roll into Sunset Street to get squashed.

At five I pour a tarry pinot and flutter
through excellent reactionary novels
as in preparation for your meta-analysis
you fold grotesque methodologies
into the catholic pallor of Excel.

The murky light drains again,
already.
When you touch the remote—
svelte as a credit card—
six candles sputter on

and we glance up at each other

before sinking down,
further than before.

Noah Warren is the author of The Complete Stories and The Destroyer in the Glass, which won the Yale Younger Poets Prize. A former Stegner Fellow, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in English at University of California, Berkeley.
Originally published:
January 1, 2019

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