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Elizabeth Kuelbs

5 A.M. at LAX

So you unzipped your ribs and begged 

the universe to hurl a little glitter in the hole


since death has been a real pig lately 

and on the way to see your parents 


who’ve stopped critiquing tomatoes, what 

happens is a jam-packed gate with two 


gray-haired Italians enthusiastically sucking face 

beside you, the man’s hand inside the woman’s 


jeans cupping her butt cheek, and flak-jacketed 

cops clustering to save everyone from some dire 


threat with a chocolate hound who wags 

discreetly to remain both professional 


and true, while the screen by the bar 

declares You Belong Among the Wildflowers 


of the golden hour Santa Monica Mountains, 

and Bruno Mars sings about being locked out


of heaven, and tired travelers part for the escaped 

toddler and the man who skateboards with no legs.

ElizabethKuelbsHeadshot copy -


Elizabeth Kuelbs writes at the edge of a Los Angeles canyon. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Scientific American, Lily Poetry Review, Under a Warm Green Linden, Rust & Moth, and other publications. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her chapbooks include How to Clean Your Eyes and Little Victory, a 2022 Independent Press Awards distinguished favorite in Social/Political Poetry. Visit her online at

Bear Review


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