Swap Meet

The stalls are arranged like a fossil hip.
The women wear serapes

and sunhats

and beyond the food trucks
one finds relics of an American golden age:

pastel pornography, Sambo shakers,
a whole stand of Africana and antique hate

retired as kitsch.

The prize piece: a foot-tall statuette, light
as a dried cocoa bean.

Its wooden spine curves into a query mark
and without a jaw it appears

the very fetish of appetite (those ribs

and femurs mere warpaint). In lieu of a loincloth
a skin drum hangs. Stick in each hand.

Nothing is haggled, nothing purchased
this day. Still it follows me home,

this steady march
in my step, the idol’s snare and my own

blood keeping time.

Nicholas Yingling’s work has previously appeared in Fourteen Hills, Rock & Sling, Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review. He grew up outside San Francisco, received his MA from UC Davis and lives in LA with his partner and dog (they take turns sleeping).

See more of his work in 7.1