Puttering Around a Haunted House

by Emily G. Bjustrom

Ghosts gather under the refrigerator
Behind the dresser
And on the coat closet floor

In the milky daylight
The ghosts hunt for memories
To dance with
-a 12th birthday party-
-that day at the beach-
-a girl alone, left on the front steps-

In the day it’s plain
The past stalks the present
In shadows and from the corners of eyes.

A cold home.
A woman unburdened.
But haunted still by the weight
Of a dirty faced child
A demanding desk
The heavy gaze of a girl waiting on the steps.

Impulse

Katrina K Guarascio

when is the last time
you held sand
felt the fall
of each gradual
and wished for nothing
more than the warmth
your allowed to slip from hands

I am lingering deep
in a list of what
could have been and
relishing the simple
I have attained

I call them albas
morning songs
gibberish
they are nothing to anyone
but the melody
reminds me of a memory

yes time has passed me
forgotten my name
and kept
rolling through
like the weather
like the waves
like the pull of the moon
these things aren’t forever
despite how far they stretch

after all
there is no such thing as forever
merely here and merely now
even our breath is compulsory

do we continue the ritual
and fail
or do we learn and do we go on

where does the fall take us
if not to the next season

Great Divine Mother Isis

You have helped the dead enter the afterlife,

The dead, who have carried their 21 grams 

of soul, so much less than a pound, 

even less than a kilogram, the weight of our essence,

a summation of all we have been and seen,

the weight of us and the depth 

of how we have loved.

Royal Isis, with a throne upon your head,

I beg you now to turn people away

from the land of the dead,

to evaluate the recent population growth there,

keep the gates closed to new entries.

On earth, it is a new moon, 

the night sky is dark and we are overwhelmed 

with death, can’t suffer its antics, 

its bad jokes, its salty cold tea. 

The songs of the mountains reach to us,

but we cannot hear the lyrics or the melodies,

just a whine of the hollowing of trees. 

We try to hold the colors of the sky, 

but instead, end up balancing its weight 

on the edges of our 21 grams.

It’s the fear, Isis, 

that we are beginning to hold of each other.

It began with the fear of contagion,

turned to fear of breath, of touch,

of all that makes us dangerously, gloriously human.

When people come in their full party dresses,

their holey pajamas, their strained smiles,

their chests gasping for air, ask them 

to turn back. 

Then take a vacation for yourself.

Close the afterlife down for another time

when we’re more ready with carnations,

waiting to say a proper goodbye.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Image by Darla Hueske:: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sierragoddess/

Thirst

Dedicated to those fighting fires.

Thirst sits heavy in my throat
Opaque smoke hangs
Confident in the New Mexican sky
Our ancient sky is now a holder of smoke
For all the fires burning to the west, Northwest
As the winds shift
The Southwest
Wraps the smoke into its four corners

I pray for rain to clear the atmosphere
I miss our blue sky
Miss seeing the Sandias
Then I feel guilt

I have no right to miss the sky
A family misses their child more
Their small son and his dog—the dog stayed with his boy
As the smoke stifled both
Found together, the pup curled in his lap
Reading the news article, I just can’t—
Tears for this lost. Tears for the raging fire
The angry fires that burn
Mother nature can be vicious in her descent

She may also be loving
We pray, I pray, on my knees for holy water,
For rain to fill the fiery sky
For a tsunami of water
To drench the burning lands, tress, homes

Loss of life is too much, we are already fighting a pandemic
And protests.And police brutality.Andunity.And.And.And—
It’s too much
I want to drown my thirst into moments of peace
Gulp tranquility, HOPE
Until my belly is full and I’m bloated
I want to breathe water
Inhale, exhale
I pray for a universe of water to drench
Destructive fires—gift each life a chance

Water is humble—
It is difficult to ask for help
With faith, prayer, I look up and within a blink
There is a portion of the New Mexico sky
Giving me hope that eventually
The smoke will settle, the fires will succumb
This thirst quenched with life-healing water

© Gina Marselle September 16, 2020

Note: This work was inspired by a call for poets to write on the theme of water. I recorded this poem and it was shared during the “Volume 27 of Wednesday Night Poetry Virtual Open Mic, Poetry Through the Pandemic.” Poet, Author, Teaching Artist, Photographer and Host of Wednesday Night Poetry, Kai Coggin, invited poets to share poems about water to bring on the rains to drench the fires raging the west and Northwest parts of the United States. “Wednesday Night Poetry is physically held each week at Kollective Coffee+Tea in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, but is now held virtually to poets all over the world!”

© Gina Marselle | Offering | 9.18.202

Voice

Katrina K Guarascio

My speech
shudders
inside me,

a tornado
siren,

a wail
in my gut,

the echos
fade fast.

Where did my voice go?

There was a time
I could go on,
each word scorching
the tongue of
the last.

Now
I find my voice subdued.

Now
I find
I  skirt the floor
with the debris of curse
words.

I no longer
spiral pronunciations
around tongue
but let sound
idle.

Voice
needs room
to grow,
a space
to share.

Voice
needs to
cling to the
octaves of
rib cage
and swing

and scream
and hold tight,
and not be surprised
when the waves buck us
from our feet.

Guarascio Poetry

Kate once told me

Katrina K Guarascio

every poem begins
as a suicide note.
And a
well rehearsed
death
is always
winkled inside my mind,
soaking there,
dripping stalagmites,
building blocks of
the subconscious.

Counting ticks
to the end;
the story
so close
to conclusion.

Loneliness,
like rock candy
crystallizing on
popsicle sticks,
attached to rib cage,
expands and compresses
with each
shallow breath.

I don’t have fear.

Sometimes the
only thing
that gets me through
is knowing
at any minute
I can stop it all.
I can rock and roll
out of this human suit
shed soft covering,
reveal bare bone,
and empty cavern.
The sliver of power
over my life;

it is everything and
it is nothing.

Abecedarian for Abrazos

Abrazo is the word for hug in Spanish.

Brazos is the word for arms.

Carrying arms, calm arms, crazy arms wrapping around you.

Daring to love you.

Even just for a moment’s greeting.

Fleeting and quick or perhaps, at times, longer.

Grab you out of your own space and world, no, that’s not the type of hug I’m talking about.

Hopeful, held, healing, those are the embraces I speak of.

I miss the casual abrazos from acquaintances.

Jolly.

Kindhearted.

Lovely, put you at ease, hugs.

Make you feel like you know each other, trust each other, at least a little.

Not awkward, but a simple greeting.

Or hugs of friends that might linger, like you’re holding onto something precious.

Perhaps love, a caring, an importance.

Quiet, unspoken, the work of brazos.

Reaching arms, reaching for you, for me, reaching love, reaching.

Sacrament, sacred.

Trust.

Under the sky we have all been hurt beneath, the same sun, the same moon.

Volumes of possibility.

Where we all feel closer, safer, stronger.

Xerox copies of hugs seem like all I have right now.

Yearning, I swear, I yearn for that closeness.

Zero hugs from friends, zero from acquaintances, zero is too few and yes, I miss them without having known I would have.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

7

Katrina K Guarascio

it has been
seven years
since last
touched

the final
flakes of body
that remembered
are rubbed clean

i am reborn

but there is
residual substance
in the circuitry
of mind
left over and
lingering

a cue
clinging
to cobwebs

as clean as
body may be
it is no match
for the grip
of memory

despite the
warmth of skin,
muscle, heartbeat,
breath, and blood,
there is a chill
that sinks
to bone

When I was old

I thought about how when I was young

I thought I wouldn’t argue about politics 

or pay attention to people in power when I was old, 

that I would arrange Gerber daisies and lilies, 

watch crows through binoculars on Tuesdays, 

thought I would savor each morning I woke,

notice the scent of rain before water hit the ground,

When I was old, I kept busy rather than was busy

and there was a day I drove up to the top of a mountain,

pulled my chair out of my trunk, hung my sweater 

around my neck, a peach in my purse. I sat for hours 

eating that peach, watching the valley below 

as orange colored juice dripped

down my fingers, my wrists, my arms. 

The birds that flew by, were not with me in this world, 

but part of an unfolding landscape

I watched then from afar, 

when I was old.

–Liza Wolff-Francis

#sayhername

Breonna Taylor

In honor of Breonna Taylor’s memory, I dedicate this post to her and her family. My condolences to her friends and family. God bless and my sincere prayers that the world soon finds solace.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-matters-ep-2-say-her-name-breonna-taylor-a-conversation-with-tamika-mallory-and-taylor-family-attorney-lonita-baker/

Gina Marselle, July 11, 2020