Tag Archives: Tai Woodville

Echo Park

by Tai Woodville


The one hard year that kicked my ass,

the street was bathed in the dull light of drunkenness,

kids loitered outside the bar, talking from behind their hair,

girls in bright tights and boys in bright sweaters,

falling into each other between sideways glances.


And what possessed me to get into that car

– a drunk girl I barely knew behind the wheel –

to sit on a strange boy’s lap?

I thought nothing of it.


Somehow we make it without crashing, taking twelve-packs

up the stairs to someone’s Echo Park apartment.

What do we do once there?

Sit on the floor, drink beers, listen to music,

talk a little, but who knows what we say.

There’s porn in the bathroom.

I am a wraith in the dark.


I called you that night, walking down the long hill towards the bus,

the tall, dewy silence standing cool in the trees,

past people’s mailboxes and gardens,

tipping my Coors Lite to my mouth,

stars smeared somewhere above the smog.


At the bus stop, I stared down the black shadows

with a drunk’s courage and beginner’s luck.

You were awake. “Thinking of you,” you said,

speaking softly so as not to wake her.

You sounded wistful, like it was really true,

and that was happiness, then.





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by Tai Woodville


My grandfather’s desk was a clutter of keepsakes,

notes and keys, amber and tusks,

drawers I’d go through as a child.


On the mantle he kept my grandmother’s high heels

— faded purple silk – positioned, one on its side,

as if she’d just kicked them off.


His typewriter sat stoic, sparingly used

–  industrial blue, ivory keys, quaint type –

forsaken for shaky print on yellow legal pads,

half-written memories – a biography in notes.


Did he ever weep on the worn wood?

Lay down his head after describing

his mother’s long hair, red as cinnamon.


Long hours spent writing in the slow light of late day

about the scars of growing up Catholic —

and being hated for his German last name during the war,

disgruntled paperboy of Minnesota winters,

collecting tin for soldiers to prove loyalty.


When I was ten he bought my cousin and I

upright pianos. Francis Bacons.

Mine survived being dropped by the movers,

and eighteen years of abuse,  marked up,

dented and scarred. Tape on the keys,

cup rings on the wood.


The tuner came and took its guts out,

left the black keys in a pile overnight.


You played it wide open, the front panel removed,

the wooden ribs hitting the harp strings in full view,

strange inner workings, like watching a heart beat.


Tai Carmen is a portland-based writer. She holds a degree in Literature with a Creative Writing Emphasis form USCB, and has one collection of poems out on Finishing Line Press. She keeps a weekly blog, PARALLAX: Exploring The Architecture of Human Perception, and is currently at work on her first novel.


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