While she sleeps,

Katrina K Guarascio

I watch the clouds gather
outside the bedroom window

the snow is coming

please let the snow come

the hush of the early morning
wraps itself around me
turning my breath to ghost

While she sleeps,
I make coffee
enough for both of us
but I know hers will go cold
before she wakes

when she wakes

if she wakes

I watch the sky
and pray for snow
let coffee bitter the tongue
take in the air
from my lungs

when I woke
I was colder than I have
ever been
I was talking to ghosts
that are still clinging to flesh and blood

When I woke,
I was alone so I stayed
beside her while she slept

across the room

in a blanket and chair

by the window

sipping the coffee and
watching the sky
praying for snow
hoping she wakes soon

so neither of us
will be alone

Desperation

Katrina K Guarascio

is not merely a flash of color.
You can caress it, cradle it,

wrap it around your fist
like the links of a chain.
It pinches the skin,
cuts to the pink.

I am not one to chew lips
or graze nail tips, but
on nights like this
desperation crawls beneath surface,

lurks inside rough veins roped around arm,
treads under the soft tissue of neck,
I can see it pulse.

The salt of it can
not be denied,
the stink can not
go ignored.
I have been playing
fill in the blanks
with crossed eyes only
to come to the conclusion
that all of this,

ALL OF THIS

is for nothing.

Can’t you see that?

The hiss of heartbeat
is not generous enough
and with every scratch
the healing takes a little longer.
If the skin is already dead,
then the venom will recede.
Not even a scar remains.

The cut was never that deep.

I tended my own wounds
before you ever had
a chance to see them.
There was never any pain,
I just didn’t realize
how easily skin could split.

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

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.

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.

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

rooted

My toes are prone to nails ingrown;
I keep digging up my nailbeds,
like a gardener turns soil to help
flowers grow,

Though my feet were not made for flowers,
so maybe I’m made of more tree limbs;
but resounding cracks are telltale
sign of a forest falling

Because my roots never took to ground.

I am prone to uprooting myself–
there is an inherent urge to move
crawling under my skin,
limbs thirsty for solid ground;

My roots tangled up
somewhere between Chesapeake Bay
and the muddy Rio Grande;
over-watered in Georgia’s swamp lands.

And Northern Ontario’s long, harsh winters
see so much time for roots to freeze–
this ground is frozen-hard
long into spring.

But then maybe I was never a tree
never flowering dogwood, dancing in the breeze
or strong pinon pine, stretching to the sky,
nor wizened oak or mighty maple-tree.

The truth is I never identified
with constant perennial things.
I never thought of myself as
everlasting;

I always wished to be a bird
and my patterns of coming and going,
like migration, supported that:
I am notorious for leaving.

I am prone to preening:
prettying up like peacock,
but more like a rock dove:
hardy/hearty (but not much to look at).

Recently, I’ve preened so much
my feathers have begun to fall out
and fail my wish for flight

(though there are those that could fly,
and instead use their battered feet:
like a roadrunner in the desert light) 

But at least my tangled roots and faulty feathers
have proven to be
a fine nest  — built for two —

Daughters, who are still trying to spread their wings
like their mother would like to do;

Daughters, who plant flowers
with their every blessed step;

Daughters, who have taught me
that I was never meant to be a tree,
but maybe that’s where my home
was meant to be.

And I can have wings,
And still be steady.


© Maxine L. Peseke, April 2020
artwork by Katrina K Guarascio

 

Guest Poet:

Maxine L. Peseke is a writer, mother, and sometimes freelance editor. She is currently living in a small Northern Ontario town, transplanted from New Mexico respectively (and most recently) where she originally met each of Saturday’s Sirens as part of the Albuquerque poetry community.

 

Rabbit

Katrina K Guarascio

I am rabbit
quick
fickle

I do not retain
the elegance of bear

or the quizzical owl

I am one
with the road

and all the world

all the world
is an enemy

I am less comfort
more nervous angel

a flight path miss marked
a collision

circling the same path
bleeding the same blood

little chance for escape
less chance for
a future witness

all these tricks
will differ only slightly
leading to the end of time

I am in the dark
my walls are high

and I resist your grasp

I have become wise
at resisting your grasp

Imprint

Katrina K Guarascio

My body is tight in
the stillness of the a.m.
I long to touch toes,
to have purpose in my reach.

I can feel your imprint
in the bed beside me
and I know it is probably
the craze of mourning but
I swear I heard you in the
next room.

I do not open my eyes.
I refuse to look for you
and allow the knowledge of
your absence.

I prefer this gentle
hallucination. The shift
of muscles in
early morning to bind me
inside the comfort of yesterday.

A self portrait

Liza Wolff-Francis

We all have so many pictures
of ourselves these days, our own

photography of us, on our phones,
on our tablets, our own portraits

taken for granted and in them,
I am a woman changed from who I was.

My hair, a graying color of bark, of limb
of Cottonwood tree, each of my eyes,

a well closing slowly as if the years bring
a squint to the world that determines

the end of water. My neck still smooth
like satin, but with the slight stretch of elastic.

What of it tells a story? It is not as obvious
as that of a giraffe however, but holds

years of breath and swallow, talk and scream.
All this body does, my arms, my back,

my toes. These shoulders pinned forward
in a lazy Friday slump, waiting

to stretch into more formal moments.
There is no easy way to eloquently say

something so trite as: it is hard to grow old
and still we must travel onward.