From “Angel on 24 East”

(Creative Nonfiction)

It was a clear night. Despite the roar of the bikes, I felt surrounded by a peculiar silence. It wasn’t a peaceful silence like the silence of my house at night when Liana and my parents were sleeping, but a charged silence, like the silence after lightning strikes, when you’re waiting for thunder. As we sped toward the freeway, I watched the constellations. The stars seemed to be spinning in a frenzied dance. I also watched Rocky, who was weaving more than ever. As we accelerated on the on-ramp, he picked up speed faster than Bob and I. He was heading directly toward the island that separated us from the freeway. Images flipped through my mind: I saw Liana curled like a seashell in her crib; I saw myself back in school, not passing notes but listening to the teacher for a change; I saw the owners of the little white house returning from vacation, finding everything gone or destroyed; I saw Bob holding Liana; I saw Rocky hit the island. The impact hurled him into the air, and he landed on the freeway thirty or forty feet from the island. It couldn’t be real. It had to be just one more image in the sequence. I looked at the constellations again, then looked ahead. Rocky still lay there. I closed my eyes, then opened them again. Rocky still lay there. I tried to wake up, but I couldn’t, because I was already awake.

Lucille Lang Day

First published in River Oak Review


One: the moon
circling Earth, dragging
the oceans like flowing
blue gowns; the human
heart pumping blood
through a network
of rivers that end-on-end
would loop the world
more than twice; the sperm
that wins the race, breaking
through to a new world
inside the ovum; a point,
indescribably small,
a fixed position flashing
in fathomless space.

Two: the eyes required
for depth perception
showing that the throat
of a hummingbird gleams
beyond the liquidambar’s
last gold leaves; wings
that lift a yellow warbler
high above the willows;
the people it takes to make
a new heart begin to beat;
the points that determine
a line from Earth to infinity.

Three: the pairs of legs
that carry the silver-etched
shell of a tortoise beetle;
silky fan-shaped petals
of a pink star tulip
growing close to the loam;
spatial dimensions
that unfolded like petals
of the evening primrose
in the Big Bang; points
making a plane to hold
the stars of the Milky Way.

Four: the chambers
of the heart, allowing
blood to flow in one
direction; the legs of
a white-tailed deer leaping
across a stream; seeds
of the creeping sage
whose blue-violet flowers
carpet the foothills;
the dimensions of space/
time. Let there be four!
And stars can beat, life
stir and breathe.

Lucille Lang Day

From The Curvature of Blue,
first published in RUNES

Delinquent Sonnets

1. In Juvenile Hall

New Juvie has bright paintings on the walls
to celebrate the better things in life:
nature, growth, transformation. These murals
admonish, “Graduate! Put down your knife.”
Mustard-colored cells are stacked in tiers,
windowless, with built-in cots and stools,
where teenagers, alone, confront their fears
and contemplate new ways to break the rules.

The year I was thirteen I ran away
from home and landed here. Back then my cell
had a window. I could watch grass sway
on a hillside, hear jays and warblers call.
More pleasing than a work of art to me:
a glimpse of sky, a hummingbird, a bee.

2. Wild Kid

I finally have become the proper girl
my mother always wanted me to be.
I don’t smoke hash or grass, wear mini-skirts,
pick up long-haired, tattooed men or party
till the neighbors call the police. My last
drunken binge was nineteen seventy.
My motorcycle-riding days are past.
I haven’t shoplifted since sixty-three.

Oh, Mama, what’s to become of me?
I’ve no regrets for anything I did—
the mescaline, the baby at fifteen.
Inside, I’ll always be your wild kid.
I’d gladly wear those mini-skirts again
if I had the legs I did back then.

Lucille Lang Day

First published in Arroyo

Aubade In Red

First rays of light
falling on pointed red petals
and pinnate leaves
of the desert trumpet;

the glow that reveals
slim blooms of the scarlet bugler,
the breast of the scarlet tanager,
the cap of the red-headed woodpecker,
the calliope hummingbird’s throat;

radiance announcing
the vine maple’s purple-red
polygamous flowers,
growing in clusters,
its smooth, red-brown bark
and paired red seeds.

Each morning let us applaud
the brightness that unfolds
to show the abundance
of all things red:
red bays and red oaks,
red coral, red clover,
red-shafted flickers
and even red pandas,
even red ants.

Lucille Lang Day

From The Curvature of Blue, first
published in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment