My great-grandmother was an early dementia,
only a few months over 60 when her mind started
to retire. My mother’s memory of her
moments are sometimes comical: a glass
of Wessen oil where there was supposed to be
water, Yiddish profanities without prompt,
and all five feet of her body bent over
in the parking lot, picking up after the dog
with her bare hands. A woman
from the old country, made foreign again in the land
she worked hard to love. She never forgot
how to play the piano, even as her children
became strangers. She filled her pockets
with stolen gum and other petty thefts.
A gold-coated lion paperweight, proudly gifted,
sat for decades on my grandmother’s desk
because no one had the courage to return it.
I was a kid the first time I heard that story,
of the lion and its origins, and of course I loved it,
the absurdity, her unwitting audacity. The absent
brain knows nothing of rules, etiquette, laws.
Either it doesn’t know, or it doesn’t care.
The way that the mind unravels is so frightening,
so unreasonable, that sometimes
the only thing you can do is laugh, or marvel.
Now in my possession, the lion is a treasure,
a reminder; even loss can bring us
Danielle (she/her) is an MFA alum and professor of disability rhetoric and creative writing at Chapman University. She has a fear of commitment in regard to novel writing and an affinity for wiener dogs. She was a finalist for the Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Non-fiction and her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Hobart, Driftwood Press, The Florida Review, The New Orleans Review and others. @danielle
aubade for the crescent city
and you gotta
love or hate
of this here
is a long long
and super short
under this here
to get lost in
to meet a few
along the way
showing the way
against walls of
you guessed it
in sturdy decorative
under the highway
Rodrigo Toscano is a poet and essayist based in New Orleans. He is the author of ten books of poetry. His newest book is The Charm & The Dread (Fence Books, 2022). His Collapsible Poetics Theater was a National Poetry Series selection. He has appeared in over 20 anthologies, including Best American Poetry and Best American Experimental Poetry (BAX). Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry. He won the Edwin Markham 2019 prize for poetry. rodrigotoscano.com @Toscano200
He wants a boy & will reward me for my trouble.
Back then, the passing down of lines – like God’s word invoking Eve’s loyalty. Grandpa’s on the beach drowning the horizon. The only sounds moths flying at the sun before bursting. I can feel the pink-whiskered zygote circling the womb searching for a shore to latch on to. Who am I but a siren song passed down from mother? I will never be a safe harbor. Why do we celebrate in pinks and blues before identity has time to steep? Spring is late. The lemons in the yard are green, still hard. Joe waits, palms cinched tight like a tarp over a bonfire. I press lies into ash as I birth her, a face I loved before it was fully formed. Joe is red as a thousand little papercuts. I turn away, embracing hope, the promise in this new skin.
Sheree La Puma
Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in The Penn Review, Redivider, Stand Magazine, The Maine Review, Rust + Moth, The Rumpus, Burningword, and Catamaran Literary Reader, among others. She earned her MFA in writing from CalArts. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of The Net and three Pushcarts. She has a new chapbook, ‘Broken: Do Not Use.’ (Main Street Rag Publishing) www.shereelapuma.com