I wasn’t prepared for the body
the stillness of it, a life muted,
how the gray sets in
how small a man can be.
The stillness of him, a life muted
in a hospital room, thin blankets
against his rails of bone
how the gray sets in,
the breath still in him,
how small a father can be
when I’m too afraid
to touch him.
to touch him
when I’m too afraid,
how hollow a father can be
to still breathe,
as the gray sets in
rails of bone, against
thin blankets, and his hospital room
in stillness, a life muted,
how gone a father can be
when the gray begins
stillness, our lives muted.
I wasn’t prepared for my father’s body.
Lisa Rua-Ware is a poet in central Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in San Pedro River Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Lily Poetry Review. When she’s not chasing her two rambunctious kids, she works as a technical writer, loves drawing, journaling, list making, and all things paper crafts.
—Sorry, We’re Open!
The young lady is served ribollita
with a fresh chunk of bread and a question:
What is it you prefer about a man—
his propensity to cheat—or to kill?
The young lady is perplexed—first time here—
stares at her soup, steps on her boyfriend’s boot,
knocks a can off the counter. Young lady,
please don’t be upset. We are all friends here.
Whatever you say, please—say it in Greek.
Or Italian. Or even English. Think:
here we are on the brink of disaster
and only you— your answer—can save us.
She thinks. She says, “I don’t care for either.”
Her boyfriend smiles. She smiles. Emilio
smiles—like Socrates in the Agora:
Ah, good! So then: ta chrimata paidi mou.
In this Dark World and Wide
He lived inside his head; his lust
lay with books. He read, he wrote.
(Some of his works are mind-numbing.)
He’ll go blind, they said, you watch.
And they were right. One poor eye patched,
one weeping, there was no doubt—
(though he didn’t see it coming)—
that paradise was lost.
And going blind he made a list
of every angel God let
out of heaven—his mind combing
Lucifer’s by feel, by touch.
The dark night of the soul. The match.
The smoldering intellect
smoking out free will. That humming
in the wings? His wife. The last.
John Perrault is author of Jefferson’s Dream (Hobblebush Books), Here Comes the Old Man Now (Oyster River), and Ballad of Louis Wagner (Peter Randall). A Pushcart Nominee, John has published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Christian Science Monitor, Comstock Review, Poet Lore and elsewhere. John is a former Portsmouth, NH poet laureate. His chapbook, Season of Shagginess, has just been published by Finishing Line Press. www.johnperrault.com
She handed me her heart —
a red ceramic music box
she painted for me, kiln fired for me
in the heat of summer, in the dark
of basement, with tiny brushes,
shimmer chalk & glaze. Mamma
with her hair ragged back by gingham. Hands
knotted, tucking curls under cotton. Hands hinging
the lid & notes hammering. Mamma —
held out a heart that was hollow
as an empty cup, frigid as porcelain
beneath my palms those nights I stayed up
gripping the rim & waiting for the moon
to pass right through. My mamma
was girl, is a sunset at dawn, will be
an artist waking to breath’s echo in the sink.
This heart is a dam. The melody is a dam.
Her daughter is a damn opening
of the lid. She tells me the notes will play
a thousand times before the battery dies & she will live
for as long as I can make it last. Mamma —
molds mortality out of clay, leaves me
with a heart that defines the future
in terms of ration, in terms of choosing which days
are worthy of a play. Tomorrow is now
lifting the lid & listening for the time
when silence answers back.
Her heart is a fragile thief
I immediately break.
Lorrie Ness is a poet writing in a rural corner of Virginia. When she’s not writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including THRUSH, Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook, “Anatomy of a Wound” was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.