Thea Matthews

In this city


you dig deep enough    

you’ll find the bones


smell dead skin rotting 

feel the stiffness of limbs 


transplanted     pickpocketed 

in a stream of stolen promises 


In this city 

where the Pacific cries


bodies buried in missionaries 

street kids disappear    spirits linger


long welfare lines        methadone clinics

and a drunk middle-aged pimp asks 


a pretty young girl “how old are you?” 

as the pick-up line to say     she’s pretty 


too pretty       pretty enough to sell 

hands are always lurking for their


next prey : a new sap from faulty roots 

of beetle-infected trees     


time   quickly wears on the skin 

as money pushes City Hall 


ghettos to high rises look the same 

with tech valleys  man-made


pharmaceuticals    a high man-made 

no one   ever wants to come down 


in this city       

grass wrestles with the trees 


and the crows and sparrows laugh  

at the debauchery of it all 


In this city 

you see it all

Ascetic Protest





feet       listen 

to the cries inside my belly



bleed the walk of the ascetic 

denounce       oil and sugar 

refractory potbellies in suits 


the protest is now

is tantamount 

is the new blood

        new peace



the revolution 

            from within 

            is within

each cell each step each fight

against an avaricious oligarchy–––

a government who can never 



the perception thoughts ideas

of a human being

as much as they want to






             they can’t find            




Thea Matthews earned her BA in Sociology at UC Berkeley where she studied and taught June Jordan’s program Poetry for the People. Her work has appeared in  Atlanta ReviewThe Acentos ReviewThe RumpusFor Women Who Roar magazine, and others. Her first collection of poems Unearth [The Flowers] (Red Light Lit Press) will be available in spring 2020.