Chelsea America, Common Casualties  
Watercolor and gouache on paper

The boys I brought home only came
to hear his stories. They admired
his firm handshake, the way he’d ripened
like a movie star – a certain
formidable jawline
that only improves with age.
And how charming. You don’t get to be
a Private Investigator without being charming.
Without the proper crystal decanter,
smug swagger, story about a bad acid trip
through Donner Pass – driving that old bus
was more like tacking a sailboat than anything.
And he raced sailboats, too, of course. This is where
I would watch a boy’s eyes go wide and motionless
as a rabbit’s. (Once, on a different trip,
he found a writhing plain of them –
hundreds, thousands of soft rabbits
swarming the desert outside Vegas.
But the rabbits just kept throwing themselves
into that black road, and there was nowhere to go
except forward. For miles
he could feel the thump thump
of their small bodies
beneath his tires.)


Dana Koster