Steven Espada Dawson

2021

THERE’S A DONUT SHOP IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA

that lets you smoke cigarettes. My brother
exhaled through the fingers of a bear

claw. Our last breakfast together is still
caught in my molars. I ash its memory

like Parliaments. He told me the joke
about Noah. How he always kept the skunks

in a lifeboat, dragging behind the Ark.
In that booth we were sacred, holding

our worst selves behind us—Brian
held a glazed ring above his head.

It glistened. That half-eaten halo.


Steven Espada Dawson is from East Los Angeles and lives in Austin. He is the son of a Mexican immigrant and a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenburg Fellow. His recent poems appear in The Adroit JournalBest New PoetsGulf CoastKenyon Review OnlineSplit Lip Magazine, and Waxwing.