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.

Storm

Katrina K Guarascio

if the storm did come,
i fear my first
instinct would be
to walk to the apex
bold and frenzied

my streets have been
dry for too long
leaving me desperate
to stand in the rain

i would trade my sight
for the scent of distant
thunder

my taste for the prickle
of hair twirled
in every direction.

i have prayed
for destruction.

but what do i know?

my mother was never
ripped into the sky
by unruly clouds,
my house never blown
down despite the coyotes
that surround back door
i have never wakened
to shattered glass
underneath my morning feet.

why should i distress of the
wrath of weather when my
New Mexican sky is endless blue
my sun bright enough i see
only red in the darkness.

i want the storm,
the wind, the water,
i want to be ravaged by the
wrath of unkind gods.

i know this wish
may not be kind

threats of storms ravage
those who prefer to hold tight
to rock and earth
and toss bodies
like crumpled paper
hoping to cling
on to abandoned words.

i have not felt
that windfall, and
i do not seek to
inhabit the pain
of the others

but i can’t
help but to search the sky for
gathering clouds and sit pale in the
wind hoping for the sky to crack.

Photographer: Roberta Fotter

 

Pantoum for our planet of crows

Crows gather in the Cottonwood tree,
blacker than night holds me.
Even the birds are our children here
if we see ourselves as becoming land and sky.

Blacker than night holds me,
shadows and dreams of sleep.
If we see ourselves as becoming land and sky,
we may never sleep again.

Shadows and dreams of sleep
that poke me awake with skeleton fingers.
We may never sleep again,
lost to the fascinatingly hateful chatter of crows

that poke me awake with skeleton fingers.
It’s not the death of our planet that scares me,
lost to the fascinatingly hateful chatter of crows,
it’s the death of us that rakes me awake.

It’s not the death of our planet that scares me,
night terrors of holding our children over the flames,
it’s the death of us that rakes me awake.
Crows invite death into today’s sun.

Even fighting, we may go down without sound.
Crows gather in the Cottonwood tree,
each day brings new air and chatter.
Even the birds are our children here.

Liza Wolff-Francis

Reach

Katrina K Guarascio

I balanced
my kindness
on the tips of
outstretched fingers,
so ready to give
all that I have
in exchange
for one smile.

We cannot always
reach who we hope;

those we most long for
may slip as easy
as dried leaves
crushed under foot.

Some friendships
should always be
kept at arm’s
length.

I pulled you in.
Let you crawl beside me,
inside me; I showed you
a different version of my face.

One so few have taken
the time to embrace.

My dearest friend,
you left blisters on my
fingertips, fresh and soft.
It will be days before
the flesh bursts and peels,
the callous forms.

They may never return to
the pink they were before
I first touched you.

Tonight, my hands ache,
and all I want,
all I ever wanted was to
offer up the kindness you
never claimed
but always deserved.

Numb

Katrina K Guarascio

I became numb
one afternoon,
essence drained
from veins

like a dried petal,
posing for pictures,
yet so close to crumble.

The thread pulled tightly,
and ribs corseted closed

unable to carry breathe
or speak the words that
scratch the top of my mouth.

Wanting to be a good woman,
I emerge mannequin,
hoping not to break
illusion with movement.

I am a clumsy masochist at best.

I continue to wake every morning.
Not a bathing beauty,

or ambitious explorer.
Not a teacher, or poet, or guide,
nor lap cat provided with secure function.

Without purpose, I only continue.

I used to trust in friendship,
assume confidence from conversations,
validations from simple smiles.

Now I cross myself in the morning
before covering my feet.
I keep my anger in an empty vase
that gathers dust on windowsill.

While he sleeps,

Liza Wolff-Francis

I sit in the dark of morning, inhale
the sacred silence that comes between

his breaths like a tiptoe. My body balances
on the edge of the bed as if it was to decide

which day to climb out of. His breath, even
and pacing, as if it were the day moving

through itself and an occasional animal sound,
a raccoon perhaps, a squirrel, a dog, a bear.

My bear behind me, vulnerable like all
that would kill us is far from here, far from us.

My prayers that it will stay that way hover
at the floorboard cracks, like a spell of salt

and peppermint oil to keep away dark shadows,
politicians in their masks, the America

I criticize and want to be different. Only all that I love
here in the dark right at my fingertips, holding up

the droop of my breasts, the bend of my toes,
the wild of my hair. While you sleep, the air

holds me in its dying night and I wait to remember
myself, all skin and bone, in the coming light.