Patricia L. Scruggs

Boom! Roman Candle Boom! Fish Boom! Dahlia Boom! Boom! Boom!

Fireworks are illegal in our city, but the thousand dollar fine doesn’t stop anyone.
On the night of July Fourth, the sky is alight with displays all around us.

We take lawn chairs to the driveway, watch the neighbors two blocks to the south
have a fireworks duel with the neighbors three blocks to the north.

We call out names for them:      Brocade      Crossette      Chrysanthemum
              Dahlia     Falling Leaves      Peony Spider      Willow

Our daughter gave her dogs hemp seed oil to ease their anxiety, but still
they shiver in their beds. It starts before dusk and keeps up for hours

Peony     Spider      Chrysanthemum      Strobe      Pistil     Fish
            Palm Tree     Waterfall     Dahlia     Comet      Farfalle

Past the corner school, more go off. And over by the freeway, still more.
All that money, I think, burning up.

A police cruiser glides down our street, but what for?        Peony        Strobe
We’re watching explosions blocks away.            Fish            Dahlia            Kamaru

We give up and go to bed, toss and turn to a serenade of booms and bangs.
There was an eclipse of the moon, but we forgot to notice.

We are just dropping off when we hear it again. Boom! Boom! Boom!
My husband says, “Roman Candle.” I tell him “Cake.”


We rode the Red Cars from San Gabriel
all the way to Santa Monica.
I was seven.

The four of us piled into
one room at a Boardwalk hotel,
bathroom all the way down the hall.

We dug in the sand,
ran from the waves,
my brother, sister and me.

Mama ran with us
in her turquoise bathing suit,
her dark hair flying in the wind,

her laughter singing
as the tide ran out, ran in,
caught us, let us go again.

This One Life

Clippers in hand, I prepare to cut three birds of paradise,
unworldly flowers, beloved of ants and bees.

In the back yard, I dodge past two groups of hummingbirds
swooping and posturing in an aerial war over the feeder.

Meanwhile, finches flit from cosmos to sunflower.
They startle as I approach, flock to the walnut tree.

Yellow-breasted males sit lookout at the top,
gray females perch on the lower limbs.

A small prop plane drones in the distance.
Sometimes I wonder if I appreciate this life enough.

My daughter’s yellow terrier wanders by. No self-examination.
No promises to do better. She’s one with the day, the sky and the breeze.

She noses a fallen walnut and wags her tail. She rolls on the pavement
to scratch her back. Now she wriggles over to me and waits to be petted.

Ants have formed a conga line from a bird of paradise bloom,
down its stem, over my hand, up my arm and onto my shirt.

What did I expect? I’ve stolen their honey source. I want
these flowers to stretch their long necks over my dining room table.

Without apology, I brush the ants away.


An orb spider,
fat as my thumb,
hangs from
the walnut tree
over the driveway.
Pale orange,
almost pink,
it works its way
up a single strand
leaving two cars,
one red and one silver,
woven together
the better to entangle
the passengers.

Patricia L. Scruggs is the author of Forget the Moon, a poetry collection. Her work has appeared in ONTHEBUS, Spillway, RATTLE, Calyx, Cultural Weekly, Crab Creek Review, Lummox, and the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, So Luminous the Wildflowers, and Beyond the Lyric Moment. A retired art educator, Patricia lives and writes in Chino, California, where she has lived the last 50 years, watching it grow and change.

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