photography: jay santa cruz



jay santa cruz


after Julie Plug

Fade in the shimmery curtain. The snarls of her hair.

When she reads about lions, it’s because they’re captured or killed.

Rehearsing. How to wash her own face
with tenderness reserved for strangers. 

I associate with others devoted to wounded web.

We would say it’s a need.
Ordinary as dancing hungry animation. 

Her rising arms mean shields down, 
three minutes til the house opens. 

Late night labor because I want to.

I’m drinking out of ten different cups.

Reconstruct the punctured testimony
with a donation of your see-through. 

The shadow on every dollar a censored kiss. 

She gives it back.

We adore ourselves in every strange lifetime.


Women stop me. I’m young, whipping ribbons, verdant dance.

The last five pages blur by. 1, 1, 2, 2.
1, 1, 2, 2. She romp her holy dog. She chops back her hair.

We could shiver out there at intermission, encoding faster jokes.

Country boy, helium bar. 
Slap him right to sleep.
Clown car full of cannibals. 

She fly fly her phoenix out.

I could not stop the pain. For land or for people.

She’s Aquarian cause she likes it wet, all day everyday

Here again, the exile in all her phases: undressed,
crescent-sharp, grappling sleek. 

One track I sang over and over was a demo that never got made. 

Testimony from the only one who stayed awake: that ragged woman walked off
with those cops so we green birds would not. 

Watching them march her down the street, I tore at the filaments
of my chapped lips and needled from the inside out. 

Here it is: she stopped them. Let it tell itself.


The shape of the book explains herself. She teaches you how to read as you go along, thrilling back road. Fields, mall, shack, motorcycle club, all dusty crabgrass, unkillable. The book is me because I couldn’t stop the pain, for land or for people. Person: the love of my life. She was a little older than the age I am now. I made her sick with my questions. I said I want the job, tell me how to keep it. There was a time she wasn’t there and I destroyed someone’s present—a bouquet of birthday balloons. I woke up to punishment scrawled on a white board: THESE WERE NOT YOURS     QUIET TIME ALL DAY    I know, but the aluminum flowers had a higher purpose. If there was a way to zap my elfin enemy into loving me I would find it. Her blue skin. Her laser crown. The shape of the book burns down the road, just enough time for me to tell you now: the girl was me. The girl was the love of my life. I swallowed the whole bottle but still I couldn’t sleep—I couldn’t help waiting for a sign even when I didn’t want one didn’t even know what I didn’t want but: the girl drew a crude page of flowers to say I’m sorry for what hasn’t happened yet. For what I have done and what I have failed to do. I’m holding very still inside the car painting itself fine with dust. There was a girl who had a daughter. The daughter made a drawing. The shape of the book is a crude page of flowers slid under the door, saying let me delight you. The girl said, there is no greater love. The girl said, than to lay down your life for a friend.

Jay Santa Cruz lives and writes in the Bay Area. Visit her Tumblr here.