Mathieu Cailler πŸ”ˆ

What Rests in the Background

At a Southern California beach, on a July day,
the sun is out and so are the people
in haphazard rows along the shore.
They wear trunks, sandy feet,
and big smiles.

But, behind them, against the base of a cliff,
rests a 1965 Ford Thunderbird, once Raven Black
with a Mint Mist interior – now painted different
shades of rust by Pacific salinity.

Every few hours, someone will notice the car’s
conspicuous shape and point in its direction.

Most passersby will either laugh or dismiss
the vehicle entirely, since so few know the story of
Roger McKinnon, a priest who had a wife and
three children in a neighboring town, who,
when discovered, drank a bottle of Old Crow
in May of ‘68, pressed the pedal to the floorboard,
and careened off the cliff.

The car’s V8 is still intact, but the hood has
decayed into a thin strip of metal resembling bark.
Through open holes, daffodils and sagebrush sprout,
and next to the deflated Goodyears thickets of dandelion

Women take selfies nearby, unaware of its presence.
They say cheese. They giggle. It is a boulder now,
a barnacle, a beached behemoth.

The headlights no longer lighting the way;
the odometer frozen in perpetuity at 21,412 miles.

Author Reading

About the Author

Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, most notably in The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, has been hailed a “postmodern masterpiece” by Midwest Book Review and was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival. For more information, please visit or find him on Twitter @writesfromla.