by Jonathan Yungkans

my marriage was over
I ran alone into a thicket
of tangled thoughts that
grew close to ground on
a scrub hillside and into
one room in a hundred-
year-old house white
as my great-grandparents

where I spent so many
days in quiet and cracks
along what was left of
a fireplace flue a mattress
on the floor one plate
one pot an alarm clock
whatever air was around
and like that house not

had a true foundation
since planted on that spot
held up by pilings that
might’ve actually saved it
when brick and mortar fell
in the earthquake of ’87
it had bent shifted as
it resettled and cracked

with stress but was still
like me in basically one
piece despite itself with
shale beneath it coyotes
prowling from the canyon
but familiar lath and plaster
like my great-grandfather
whether with carpentry

or the evening news quiet
while my great-grandmother
cooked or sat on the porch
swing under bougainvillea
like on the trellis here
further away from my life
than I’d ever known before
yet here I was finally home

IMAGE: Whittier, California, postcard, available at uspostcards.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: They say you can’t go home again but maybe I came home, period, when I moved to Whittier in December 2000. An ex-girlfriend, with whom I had no contact, had graduated from Whittier College, and I had one friend at the time who lived not far away. Otherwise, I was very much on my own. I rented a room in an old house across the street from the college. In a way, the place was a foot in the past, having been raised in part by my great-grandparents in a house maybe 10 years or so newer, and one in the future. But it did give me a chance to breathe and regroup.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los-Angeles-based poet, writer, and photographer. Growing up in Gardena, California, not far from the Pacific Ocean and at the time still predominantly Japanese-American, left him with three things—an intense love for the sea, a deep appreciation for cultures other than his own, and the outlook (and resulting questions) of an outsider aware that he didn’t quite fit into his surroundings. Subsequent years as an ESL teacher and a publications editor for a multi-cultural Christian ministry only added to the latter two of these. His works have appeared in Poet Lore, Poetry/LA, Twisted Vine Literary Journal and other publications.