children have a special knack for
making you feel odd and nude
suddenly even with that vaguest
piece of smile you ready somewhere
to cover a scorching shame when they
wickedly naïve and sportive barge in
without ceremony and when you finally
shut that errant door on them again
to try resuming love you terminate
it both ways instead it seems
the look of bewilderment and hurt
they leave behind you cannot annul
henceforth an alienating chill
scudding across your upright headboard
flipped into stiffened sheets and consciences
weighty and brittle with adult experiences
and reconsidered passions confounding
even the best intentions but even
more final than all finalities fumbled
for is the cool crisp “later” you wall
them away with somewhere again
love waiting suffers a little falling
away you end up wishing lovers are more
like gaming children and children
less like gnarled impatient lovers.
Marjorie M. Evasco
We are entitled to our own
definitions of the worlds
we have in common:
and try out new combinations
with key words
house on fire sing!
stove under water stay,
earth filled well die.
The spells and spellings
of our vocabularies
one woman in Pagnito-an
another in Solentiname
still another in Harxheim
and many other women
half the world together
canmove their earth
musthouse their fire
be water to their song
will their dreams well.
J. Neil C. Garcia
It happened in a metal drum.
They put me there, my family
that loved me. The water
had been saved just for it, that day.
The laundry lay caked and smelly
In the flower-shaped basins.
Dishes soiled with fat and swill
piled high in the sink, and grew flies.
My cousins did not get washed that morning.
Lost in masks of snot and dust,
their faces looked tired and resigned
to the dirty lot of children.
All the neighbors gathered around our
open-air bathroom. Wives peered out
from the upper floor of their houses
into our yard. Father had arrived booming
with his cousins, my uncles.
They were big, strong men, my uncles.
They turned the house inside-out
looking for me. Curled up in the deepest corner
of my dead mother’s cabinet, father found me.
He dragged me down the stairs by the hair
into the waiting arms of my uncles.
Because of modesty, I merely screamed and cried.
Their hands, swollen and black with hair, bore me
up in the air, and touched me. Into the cold
of the drum I slipped, the tingling
too much to bear at times my knees
felt like they had turned into water.
Waves swirled up and down around me, my head
bobbing up and down. Father kept booming,
Girl or Boy. I thought about it and squealed,
Girl. Water curled under my nose.
When I rose the same two words from father.
The same girl kept sinking deeper,
breathing deeper in the churning void.
In the end I had to say what they all
wanted me to say. I had to bring this diversion
to its happy end, if only for the pot of rice
left burning in the kitchen. I had to stop
wearing my dead mother’s clothes. In the mirror
I watched the holes on my ears grow smaller,
until they looked as if they had never heard
of rhinestones, nor felt their glassy weight.
I should feel happy now that I’m
redeemed. And I do. Father died within five years.
I got my wife pregnant with the next.