Two Poems by Tiffany Higgins

incantation in a time of drought

                                                             Oakland, CA

as if waiting

for rain

I lean my nape

the night:

come morning, kiss-

smooch cement

traces some

god has


oh, but where?

above, full clouds hover:

ash quilt of continents
with silver thread stitched

pale cranes

over Port

of Oakland
machine beaks pick

and peck

loads from Hanjin
and muscles refuse

what is

not content:
(barricades, may
we go to them) (oh glorious)
meanwhile I listen
to Nara Leão sing

corcovado, a chuva
de tristeza


: rain of sadness
damps the face


oh, happiness, my love


oh, but where?

then, sun e-

volves to

dry the street



oh, no rain


(drought, my drought)


no rain




in the time of drinking dinosaur water

                                                             for California’s Central Valley Aquifer

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

a cartography of knowing, or at least

some kind of stone to hold               down

the floating


of your

soul your drifting soul

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

in your drought-

riven lands

where to push limbs is to tenderize
one’s flesh under orange oven-coils of sky

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

in the night that scarcely cools and merely zithers
its parted lips across thighs

where I sleep


breath of the beast who remembers

before my wan, thirsty people arrived

and doesn’t hesitate

to bellow me back
back against the torrent

of dry air

and I, who know not
storm’s catechism—

hear catch schism

whose tap tap tapping on absent
lily pads I keep calling keys

but which turn no lock
and turn back no rising seas

and aren’t I the ship stuck between the locks
waiting for water to heave her?

Don’t tell how we siphoned bottoms,
valley of plenty,

fertile fathoms and epochs

age of shale & Pleistocene
fled before our touch:

how we drank dinosaur water
like Coke and Pinot:

We thought—we said—
we thought it would

by miracle

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