Last Day

Katrina K Guarascio

The clay we are molded
in will not harden. We
are not meant to last.

Even as we lay in post
coital glory, the tremble
still in my legs, the sweat
clinging to our bodies,
even now, we know
this is the end.

A moment shared, in all
its precious give and take,
touch and toss, comfort and
cross, is just a temporary
slip of the sun across sky.

Hold my body to yours, let
the sweat dry and consciousness
return to our extremities
let the sun fall on our last
day of summer. My dearest friend.

In our quarantine

Liza Wolff-Francis

there is only my shadow
on an open empty road.
Central Avenue is deserted,
as if we built the world
for ourselves, then weren’t
able to live in it.
Our world, a dead tree cut
into circles, chopped like
pieces of hotdog or carrot rounds.
A roadrunner crosses
the rough cracked asphalt,
a silent yellow fire hydrant
in a green yard.
All that is left is a ghostbike
to memorialize us, all the beads,
all the trinkets that hang from it.
Even inside our house,
the meditation pillow
tries to be the rug. My child
disappears into a box,
his coat hanger book report
hangs alone, waits
to go back to school someday
in some uncertain future.

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.

The task of the creative

Liza Wolff-Francis

To those of us who write poems, create art,
our task is to lead the thirsty to the lagoon

where the water is just cool enough to test out.
First, with a dip of the toe, then cupping

our hands around it to make a small
puddle in our palms, bring puddle to lips,

between cheeks. We cannot help them
swallow, drink, or digest, but we can point out

the deepest parts and the shallow areas
where algae grows. We can show them

how to soak their bodies in an ecosystem
they didn’t know existed. We can wear a path

in the grasslands between their home and this oasis,
where a quench is mastered before it even registers

in the mind. Our task is to show them
when the hawks dive down, to alert them

to the preying wait of the crocodile. Our task
is to make them want more, so they depend on it

and are conscious of that at their very core,
beyond even understanding thirst.

Remember

Emily Bjustrom

After Joy Harjo

Remember the sky you were born under-
The light and how it shadowed
Your mother’s face

How she howled and screeched-
The two of you were Human then

Remember your feet
How they carried you
Up mountains and trees

You clung to them
Remember the breeze
How it kissed you
And blessed you with its touch

You knew then what animal you were
Remember.

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.

Broken

Katrina K Guarascio

Our conversation
dried;

our time
over.
It’s not your
fault.

We never
had a chance.

You left,
emptied shelves
and dresser drawers.
All I can think
is my grandfather will never
dance with me at my wedding.

My heart is broken
broken,
broken.
My body mourning.

All it is
all of this is
a boneyard
I can’t bury.

I’ve always had trouble
with the scraps,
always found it
impossible to let go.

And now,
at 10:30 on a Tuesday night
I am more empty,
more alone
than I can ever remember.

All I want is for
my mind to rest,
my body to resign.

This is not a holy time.
There is nothing sacred
in this prayer.

Dear child of my heart,
dear landmine,
how does one rectify absence
when the only thing left is
alone
aloneness
lone ness
lonely
ness

and I am
drip
drip
dripping
on white pages again.

Metaphors are the same
as curse words are the same
as damn I miss you
is the same as damn
I miss myself is the same
as damn
damn

I miss you.

At the holy ground

Liza Wolff-Francis

we are people composting slowly,
decade after decade we watch
the young birth themselves
into this world we have given them.

At the holy ground, there is lush
green brush, there is warmth
of sun, the cool of water, rock
mountain temple before sky.

At the holy ground, my pleasures
are gathered and woven together
like chain link, but softer,
like silk. The most curious

birds with tufts on their heads,
peck at memories, rise together
like levitation in the quiet air,
as if they hadn’t always been there.

At the holy ground, it was like
we had barely wanted any atonement
or penance at any time in our lives,
but suddenly we hoped

for a blessing to appear out of nowhere,
like we needed it in order to go on
into the loneliness we knew
would soon be floodlit,

its every movement echoing
like a tree falling. Here,
the petals of flowers wait for me
to lie down and kiss the earth,

to lap at their spilled nectar.
We eat dandelions, imagine
ourselves as strong, as new
as the words sung to us

by the voices we love,
as if they were angels
or mermaids or goddesses.
I should just call them goddesses.

Marrow

Emily Bjustrom

After Natalie Diaz

While she sleeps, I paint
the windows shut.
To trap the cold wet light of evening.

After a summer thunderstorm,

I am pacing and strange.
My bones- a girl.
Soft and still,
as the air sneaks
to wake her.

She is my spine.
The hollow points in me
The cave in my belly

I paint the spaces between
the clouds and the backs of my knees

Dust gathers on the sill
scent of passing rain- starched cotton.

An empty hand unfurls.

Ignite

“…sizzle like moth wings,”

~Naomi Shihab Nye

In Nye’s poem Burning the New Year,
she writes in four stanzas
a poem of beauty, letting go
metaphors and love.
I want to love myself as I love this poem,
so, I let go that I’m not enough.

What if I loved myself like
my life depended on it?
What if doubt waterfall-ed down the Sandia’s
in a year of drought—

impossible?
Never.

I have touched a waterfall once long ago
on a lonely hike to Travertine Falls
where rock, cave, tree, water and desert meet—

impossible?
Never.

Time has hidden this spot
like love in a cottonwood root
ageless and unseen.

This is love I ignite from self
to waterfall as a desert monsoon
spills from all the crevices
into a new year affirmation: I love myself.

©Gina Marselle, January 20, 2020