John Dorroh: “Carlsbad After Dark”

Carlsbad After Dark

I remember how the air smelled like warm guano
before the bats swarmed out of the cave at Carlsbad.
How they spiraled up toward a full orange moon.

How the park ranger joked about rattlesnakes
eating a family’s chihuahua while they crooked
their necks toward the purple sky. I remember

looking at my wristwatch and the itching sensation
on the back of my legs. How I was worried about
desert fleas. I don’t remember where we parked.

I remember how the air-conditioned air chilled
our faces. How the ice machine spat out perfectly
square cubes. How we smelled chlorine

from the pool. I remember the bite of white
onions on our fast-food hamburgers and how
the salt on the French fries made our tongues

swell like sea cucumbers. I remember how
we slept like bats in a cave. How no one snored.
But I don’t remember the drive back home.


John Dorroh is a composter, recycler, and procrastinator. His first poem was written with his mom’s red lipstick on the bathroom walls. He may have evolved a bit since then. His poems have appeared in Feral, Blue River Heron, Os Pressan, and many others. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.

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