The GO Order by Jessica Michael

The GO Order

They evacuate a town 20 miles south of here,
as fire swallows gully after gully.

I take a walk, count butterflies,
ignore the plume that smears
an entire quadrant of sky.

I try not to think about
the incompleteness of my bug-out bag—
toothpaste without brush, money without license—
the inadequacy of tires as lifesavers.

I don’t want to know
how twigs crack like bones,
how smoke rakes through lungs,
how trees are lungs.

I need my haven,
my nest of appointments kept.
They cot the school gym in spite of this.

Now junipers are turning into ghosts.

Drought is a fool’s gold of a word,
as if it’s a short stay at a bad motel
not a gut punch to the river.

I have felt the redroot cinch,
the scrub oak brace,
while tending hope the wind turns east.

When slurry fails, the helicopters
fill their bellies with the lake,
if only so in winter I will say,

I remember when the waterline was here.


Jessica Michael lives in the high desert of Arizona. Her work has appeared in One by Jacar Press, Poets Reading the News, Allegro, Comstock Review, LIGHT, Into the Void, Red Fez and others. She recently earned second prize in Oprelle’s “Matter” anthology contest. Find her at

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