the red line at midnight


on the subway

a middle-aged man

with scraggly grey hair

taps us on the shoulder

to show us a handwritten sign

which says,

I am deaf

please help if you can,

to some extent

causing a younger man behind us

to yell,

he ain’t deaf

he can talk

I’ve heard him

don’t fall for it,

also to some extent

so I shake off the beggar

and say, sorry, in the process

which he may

or may not have heard


the subway is always full of characters

and as each peculiar moment passes

under flickering fluorescents

another one is conceived

and soon it shall breathe life

for all us late night travelers to see


and occasionally

eye contact is shared

and held

between fellow strangers

only to remain held

as images

and preconceptions

unravel in the mind of two


cherish all of these moments

even the dancing man

selling sticky incense which smells of medicine

for they are real

and unflattering

and isn’t that what we love most?




We move toward the mirage

with legs doused in sand

and sleeves rolled up into our armpits.

But it’s there—

oh, I can see it.

Shimmering in the golden haze

like the sine waves of air

behind a bbq pit.

Drench the coals in kerosene

and drop a match on the grill

so we can watch the flames jut towards the heavens

mimicking the sharp tips of the wooden fence

looming in the background.


The mirage is there

that much I promise.

And though our throats are dry

and lips chapped

and hands scaly with dead skin

those shimmering waves of air

are calling my name

beckoning me with curled fingers.

Can’t you hear?

You have to listen closely

for sometimes the whispers

are louder than the rest.


looking for what


Should we start?

What should we do?

Should we stop?

What should we do?

What are we looking for?

What are you looking for?

Why are you looking at me?

I don’t have the answer

and neither do you.

Does this overall lack of clarity

surprise you?

Welcome to the maze.

The infinitely



       of                     tomorrow

                                              and the beast




Forget your trail of bread crumbs

for it has already been devoured.


mr. demille


Enough of science and art;

close up on purple stains & pale smoke,

the smiling Descent of Winter

and a woe weathered halfgone moon.


Close up on the flight of a human soul

surmounted by black and white heroes of the past—

life suspended between familiar blank fields

and rueful skies.


Close up on the uniform of intellect,

an insect’s unseen calm

and the skin of a ripe plum

colored blue from the languorous light of the sea.


When we’re able to outshine the pageantry of fear

those towering tombs with swiveling eyes

appear barren

as they are and have forever been.




Phil Collins belts out his cheesy vocals

that echo through our kingdom

our 80s palace perched atop the hills of purity

the elevated ridges that lie above a fog of dissipating honesty.


Facades and lies and masks that hide the soul have no place in our

paradise of vulnerability—our sanctuary of truth and beauty and

childish courage that swims through the succulent veins of soldiers

hoisting loaded rifles with glimmering bayonets leading the way.


a collision of sorts


I was buying a cheap 40 oz.

with my dog in tow

when a young homeless man came up behind us

he was blond and tan

but his eyes were darty and distant

and immediately I knew

all of my change would be his



I don’t know

because my pain runs deep with them

every single one

but I can’t give it all away

I can’t empty my wallet

at the drop of a frown

no matter how much I want to


so I restrain

I dissect

and I second guess

but always

every goddamn time

I’m left with a sickness in the pit of my stomach

that nags

and tugs

and tries to suffocate my happiness

but I won’t let it because I can’t bear to think of myself in such a

hollow position surrounded by such hollow souls with slicked back

hair and crisp lapels and legs that are trained to migrate away from

the uneasy stare of misfortune


hell no

I can’t let it eat me alive

I’m too weak

so I donate when I can

as often as I can

and attempt to move on

because I have to


but every now and then

one of the wounded come limping up

and try to pet my dog

but he’s growling

and I wonder why

but maybe he’s just scared

maybe we’re all scared

so I look at the wounded soul

and I don’t care what he’s done

for I’ll never know

and I don’t care why he did it

for I’ll never know

and I hand him all of my change

and walk away before his thank you reaches my ears


a walk up hillhurst


people pack inside the coffee shop

with their computers

and notepads

and wandering eyes

pretending to be infinitely important

and endlessly perplex

when all they actually want is to be seen

and to be comforted

by a group of strangers

who share the same insecurity

because those wandering eyes

aren’t meant to ward anyone off

or protect precious work

they’re lonely invitations

to a disappointing party

an empty beachside mansion

with the host asleep on the couch

watered down whiskey still in hand


so I get my coffee to go

and find a nearby bus bench

where I can write alone

until an old man

holding two bags of groceries in each hand

takes the open seat to my left

as I finish my poem


a nice walk can invigorate the mind

and inspire tired knees

but on my way back

I see a cat sitting on a windowsill

who pays no attention to me as I pass

entirely unaffected by my presence


I guess I don’t mean anything to him

but he means something to me


— Cliff Weber

Cliff Weber is 26 years-old and lives in Los Angeles. He has self-published three books and two chapbooks, all of which can be purchased on and in select bookstores. His work has appeared in Adbusters, Out of Our, Beatdom, Bartleby Snopes, and Burningword, among others. He will begin the Creative Writing program at USC in the fall of 2013. Follow his blog, Word Meds (, for your daily dose of literature. 

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