Lisa C. Taylor

Plastic Bag in the Shape of a Woman

spotted on a tuft of grass,
voluptuous clarity.

I braked,
gulped from my water bottle
before pedaling past.

At an exhibition once
I saw a woman
slathered in clay,
art or maybe

like dying,
body as a transition
to weightlessness.
Discarded casing,
inflated bag.

Mornings, I bicycle by mountains,
dodge grasshoppers, brush away
flies. My breath keeps pace
as legs pump,
climb hills, cross roads.

This glimpse of who I am,
a line drawing,
scabbard over muscle and vein,
lung balloons, heart pump,

an invitation
to disappear.

Cliff Swallows

When swallows soar,
addling the blue,
they balance between veins of agate
and oyster-tinged clouds,

everything seen is tainted,
and spoken language volleys
between extraordinary and profane.

The homes of cliff swallows
embellish craggy outcroppings,
their compressed mud pellets
rising like tiny domes

as they huddle on tucked-away cliffs,
sagebrush and shadow mountains
in the foreground.

This ingenuity of nests
affords impromptu grottos
where birds cluster
in the ebb of light,

an inauguration of season,

or a coup de grâce.

How to Escape a Fire

Close the door.
Lie prone
or jump out the window.

Evacuated in January,
we held hands, shivered in the firetruck
in plaid pajamas as the snow came down,
shafts of ice shimmering in the blue lights
of the police cruiser.

Later in a second story apartment,
a man, I’d now call a boy yelled fire
and banged on the door.
I grabbed my purse, turned off lights, out of habit,
drove nowhere, just away.

Our first purchase,
box of a house down the street
from a dive bar,
yard the size of a spread-out blanket,
shower-stall-sized porch
where we ate breakfast
on summer mornings.

Smoke detectors chirp from low batteries,
shriek when serious.
There is a kind of flame
no one sees. Earth smolders,
forests transform into spectral projections.
Yesterday, the sun dragged a turtle
toward oblivion,
and four days ago,
a small city dissolved into ash.

In the drought, we welcome
an afternoon storm.
Firebolt, tender moisture, electric precipice.

Crouch low so flames
won’t find you.
Check yourself off as safe.

Check yourself off.

Lisa C. Taylor is the author of two collections of short fiction and four poetry collections, including two chapbooks. She recently relocated to a tiny mountain town thousands of miles away from anything familiar. She’s encountered tarantulas, black widow spiders, and is learning to awkwardly mountain bike. Lisa’s writing honors include the Hugo House New Works Fiction Award, Pushcart nominations in fiction and poetry, and several shortlist designations. Lisa writes book reviews and she is the fiction editor for She will have a new collection of poetry published in 2022.