Sea Lion


The stink of him came to me first, a salty hit of kelp
& fat-rot. The dank bulk of the bloated lion shushed,
clogged the pink swish of twilight surf.

Perhaps two days dead. Above the dull head danced
four children & the flank of an upraised
shovel. They were popping the gassy beast,

that lowly rolling bull. His skin hissed.
Their father watching from beneath a blue tent.
Offshore platforms twinkling, nodding

hammer heads into deep-sea oil. Red-tide
bioluminescence. A freight
train shaking each flat leaf

among the trees of the banana plantation.
Beneath its heavy wheels, crushed pennies.
The awful children return to their camper.

When I go to stand near the savaged sea lion,
he is still dead. I already know what I am,
& nothing new in me emerges.

Emily Vizzo is a San Diego writer, editor, and educator. She serves as Assistant Managing Editor at Drunken Boat journal, and volunteers with VIDA, Poetry International, and Hunger Mountain. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in FIELD, The Journal, The Normal School, North American Review, and Western Humanities Review, among others. Her essay “A Personal History of Dirt” was noted in Best American Essays 2013. A San Diego Area Writing Project fellow and 2013 Vermont Studio Center resident, Emily teaches yoga at the University of San Diego. She completed her MFA in Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.