Future Ruins

Brandon Shimoda

Where do you feel safe?
Where do youth feel safe?

On the phone
With best friends on the phone
The space that exhales
A box
SW Grille
In a car
with sister and mother
eating Eegee’s


M saw a UFO
K has lupus
A’s brother was ill,
the hospital food tasted like her brother’s illness
O saw his dead grandmother with lotion on her arms
His father opened the casket There were bones
Termites ate the wood
K cried
N cried when her grandmother died
The last time R saw his mom
they were watching Family Guy together
L offered to buy him a bike at Walmart
S’s father was kidnapped
twenty days later he was murdered
K punched her boyfriend so many times in the face, she blacked out
H, who goes by R, said the healthiest thing she eats is Gatorade
O’s grandmother laughed
like a dolphin


The teenager from the bilingual school
Told me about the skull
that popped out of the dirt beside her house
She did not say popped, the dirt was marked

with pores
the grandparents breathed through
as they were sleeping
near the ceiling
living as a two-dimensional effigy,

as the profile of a necklace fell off the skull
no salvages in the quarter life.


I am tired of seeking something to live for M said
I want to seek something to die for
I can picture you becoming a famous director said Y
who remembered going to a country music concert
with her mom
and how sweaty everyone’s arms were

K’s father was deported when she was young
They grew apart
Now When he gets home from work she carries him to bed
S was born in Iraq
Her family didn’t find out her father was murdered
until four years after he was murdered


In the feet Down the wall
listening to music
behind dark orange shadows
Thrown into sand in the dry riverbed
Between toes Indentation of thorns
The river
Moving not moving


Brandon Shimoda's recent books include The Desert (The Song Cave, 2018) and an ancestral memoir called The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, 2019). He lives in the desert.