A Yezidi woman sits across from me
her eyes are flat black
like no eyes should look
as if her spirit has been sucked
backward through her body
to fly away somewhere else
“Is it true?”
her handler asks me
“Is it true what ISIS did to the children?”
She starts to cry
great rolling tears
streaking her face black mourning mascara.
I seek safety inside myself
in a world that offers none.
Is it true?
is it true?
It is true.
I hear her voice
asking over and over
like the crows now cawing over mass graves
as the Yezidi woman gazes
but not at me.
Susan Notar has flown over Iraq in helicopters wearing body armor and makes a mean beurre blanc sauce. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including Gyroscope, Written in Arlington, Antologia de Poemas Alianza Latina, Penumbra, Joys of the Table An Anthology of Culinary Verse, Springtime in Winter: An Ekphrastic Study in Art, Poetry, and Music. She works at the U.S. State Department helping vulnerable communities in the Middle East.
Bench Warrant Wednesday
You’re finally back in your hometown,
only snow greets your arrival.
Court date’s in a few hours,
just time to check into some
cheap hotel and change into clothes
that say I’m a good girl, clothes
that’ll be dumped at the charity shop
after free breakfast, local bank,
and go pay the fine tomorrow.
No time for visiting or sightseeing—
you’ll see all you want from the train
on the head-out-of-town express.
Window cracked to let a thin stream of smoke out,
you breathe in the incense of pines,
catch a quick glimpse of your old house
a little more canted, a lot less yours.
All the wildflowers buried deep until spring
do nothing to coax you back,
and you leave this town that doesn’t bear repeating
once again, the stillness of dusk broken only
by wisps of winter shadows through the trees,
a jukebox song of wild horses in your mind.
The Year of No Men
Granny’s on the front porch with me
playing gin and drinking gin.
I have a Jolt Cola to keep awake.
Mama’s coming to get me soon,
take me to the monthly family day
at the corrections house just down the road.
They call it “house” so it sounds nice,
but you can’t just leave when you want.
Daddy’s there for a while and that’s all I know.
We got a one-year lease on a nice double-wide,
Granny’s a couple rows over.
Other ladies and kids mostly fill in the rest.
Mama goes over to our real house every few weeks,
waters the plants, grabs up the bills,
cleans the messages off the garage door.
I don’t get to go ‘cause those messages—
they’re not too nice most times and mama says
I’m too young to understand.
So she brings me back a lemon pie
from the gas station mini mart
and I watch Granny get stuporfied.
Took a lotta years living
before I could sift through the truth
of our time at the trailer park,
and I made a lot of promises to myself
after that: no bail, no messages
written on any garage doors cause of me,
and gin would always be cards, jelly jars
only for juice and for baking, and “house”
would mean house, with toys in the yard.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).
Zeina Lee is a junior attending Suffield Academy in Connecticut, America. She is a profound visualizer and observant artist talented in the art of observation with an especially color-keen sense. She developed her skills in media art and graphic design by learning traditional art techniques and computer software tools; Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, InDesign and so on. She plans to continue pursuing her interests in art to expand on her creativity and perspective. First and foremost, Zeina’s creative acumen shines through in both her artwork and her presence at Suffield. Her participation in Art Special has resulted in successful school-wide art exhibitions each spring for the past two years. Zeina presents her work and ideation in a way that is not only creative but also in a way that enlivens her peers to follow her lead.