SPOTLIGHT: ‘Woman on the Run’ by Carla Sarett

the maltese falcon

Everything I had to do is done.
So I invent pointless chores—sort t-shirts by color,
date spice jars, organize drawers of cancelled
checks and misplaced sympathy notes. I find
a lone postcard of a sunlit turquoise cove.
Malta’s lovely this summer, a friend (now a stranger)
wrote in 1990; curious, the things we save.
My mind drifts to the seven temples of Malta:
stone parades of goats, goddess with pleated skirt.
I once swam where the two seas meet,
I once felt delicious warm water. In under a day,
I might have flown to Valetta. Now I walk
in dank air and soiled neon, through the streets
of The Maltese Falcon. On Stockton, two-bit thieves
chased down a fake relic of the Holy Orders.
The stuff that dreams are made of, Bogart said
as Sam Spade, after he turned his beautiful
lover in, he learned how to stop wanting
what is gone.

forget my name

do not ask
i can tell
no one it
sounded like
cemetery crickets
in late August
after midnight
dying with
laughter at that
line was it
Vinyl Hampton,
not Lionel Hampton
in a movie
named for a
city it’s not
even close


My mother called them fanatics,
wearing beards, wigs, and long black coats
in late summer’s heat. Searching under-
ground for all the Unbelievers,

even Kafka’s mournful ghost. One
marsh-skinned young woman
hovers close above me in
the squalor of our secular rush.

Her wig smells like a Bronx funeral,
like the local death camps I feel
buried deep beneath these tracks.
I’m not one of you, I almost cry.

Her Golem gaze finds mine.
Light a candle tonight, she whispers.
It turns dark between stations,
then no thing divides us.


Deirdre’s sending
love w/ exclamation points
love! love! love!
John texts it (love)
no point wanting
a love letter she knows
that’s not the #love
they’re sending
that song
love love love
all you need is
not the #love
she needs 

night moves

everyone’s speaking French
it makes no sense it’s
an Irish pub her knee
strays an inch dangerous
her mother said a woman alone
but men are tied to screens
newly-chastened her knee
swings back like a girl’s
on a playground she loved
to climb the monkey bars
until her knees failed
but falls didn’t scar
the flashlight girl who read
of frogs turned into princes
down by the cold well so weary
everyone got saved her
skirt’s astray she pulls it
down to her knees her gin’s
water then one more half
price and she can sit
hours touching no one 


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