Traveler 1

Sandra Pratt winter solstice

“I won’t talk about your wrongs…
They have no part in this.”
Cicero, Second Philippic

Don’t want to go back
on my word, be coy
like Cicero; make mention
where mention is due.
The grave of some great orator
lies buried under the stones
of our brick house. The ghost
misting up through the floorboards
isn’t real, I think, though it makes
a real house for kids’ games.
I am sick of all my old stories.
So I walk the snowbanks
to get home, so I take the train
summers to the end of the tracks,
each week an office building
on the highway and dead petunias
in stone planters. Don’t think
this is a love letter. I would rather write
the lines of my sister’s face
into the oak-tree sprawl
than walk by those fields again
and the chainlink fence.
What is missing there—a kind
of kept, which precedes clarity.
I, without love of the root.
What then is there to hold
in places? I don’t deny I walk
through towns until they fill me,
with the exhalations of a thousand
breathers in a thousand rooms.
Were I to close my eyes
I could become invisible.
On the east hills closer to the sky
rife with palm-trees and hailstones
human-sized I lean
over the balcony rail, still feel
the metal at my fingertips. Is that
what keeping means? The entrails
of some place sitting in the stomach
press their fingers against
my ribs. A list: airplanes banked
beside route 25, screaming-matches
Tuesday nights, eyes that won’t
meet, self-made negotiators, rooms
without doors, smell of smoke, weak
black coffee. TV in the low room.
Driveway so steep you could roll
off the edge of the east hills
and end up new. Sometimes, true,
we’d sit by the window and watch
hot air balloons rise over the far-off city,
mark them with the grease
of our foreheads pressed
against the glass. The adults
get wine-drunk and cheat at cards.
My body’s falling on the balcony
or in the driveway or halfway down
the walk to the corner-store, and in return
hits grasping heat and strange birdcalls
in human voices. Keep what you owe
to places in the soles of your shoes
and refuse the morning. I have not
been back again. What’s worse:
I have not been back again.

 

Written by Lucy Western

Artwork by Sandra Pratt “Winter Solstice” 

What is to be done

The curtains have gone, has the show begun, or just ended?
Staring into the mirror and asking if you had met before, so hard to understand, I can’t describe the reflection once it leaves me and it changes every once in a while, everything seems farther away no matter what.
A search for ladybirds means that there will be none to populate my hands, an aimless stroll and there will be tickles down my neck.
Where have they all gone, I did not seem to find them anymore.
Catch them to set them free, why, because it makes me happy.
Nocturnalized, adapted to avoid the dreamy clasp, the name of the Game.
In the name of self-care, but they have villainized selfishness.
On hotter nights, a head sprouted out of the window drawn by the flashlight of a night-shift employee, joins the solemn dance that echoes the stars.
We have taken something and made it into something else and this may never stop. I knew because it came to my head.
No fussy, self-absorbed flower bed to catch me, only wild, sturdy sprouts, it was a question of preference.
Preference meant alternatives.
But they have all gone!
Present although I could not reach them, does it matter that they were there, not so much.
If only I understood the ladybird’s cries, were they saying those words that I must have skimmed before, “only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us…”
What does it mean anyway, he writes and I had been thinking of something else.
In lieu of a solution, an elaboration of a bunch of things that have been labelled an issue.
A slow build and I fought to care where it was heading.

 

Artwork by Joan Mitchell, “Ladybug” 1957.

For Sabina

Her true artistry was her life
so light; it was
A series of rest stops
between each betrayal–
the severing of ties. Easy goodbyes.
A perpetual free-fall into each new landscape
Always a patchwork from inside the bird’s eye
Getting closer- closer.
I want to… Sabina. Faceplant into unknown sands
A lone migration.
I want to split each person I meet with a scalpel
Like a surgeon, and let the galaxies come pouring out
Smokey and sighing.
I want to live in rest stops and automobiles
Forget those roots always digging around,
Deep in the gut
Let them wither.
No more digging nails into soft flesh let it
Slip through my fingers clattering loose
like pencils shaken from a box.
Forget
The depths of dark eyes that watch me warmly.
Make myself like velcro instead
Easily stuck and easily torn
Let me be light.

 

 

Artwork by Isabelle Feliu

The Single Girl Haikus

Fingers grasping for
A ghost a phone not buzzing
Sit on your sad hands.

You look so normal
They thought you would fall apart
But you’re radiant.

Not anywhere close
To love or even liking
They fucked anyways.

Down those drinks baby
Sweep yourself up in liquor
Sweet liberation.

Hi, meet your ugly
A bad a terrible thing
You did that night; whore.

She was seventeen
The first time; a baby. Now
Wave goodbye to love.

“I like sleazy men!”
Gut-busting my laughs ring out
Strangers like playthings.

Fall again on your
Face your teeth for that other
Man you also loved.

Settle into it
That bounding lion heartbeat
Looks like you’re happy!

Cry in the shower
Hours and hours of it
Like fresh snow so clean.

Hold that girl like a
Cloud; fill your arms with yourself
Sip on it; alone.

Alone, alone, a
Dazzling lightshow alone
It is exquisite.

Artwork by Vincent Van Gogh “Almond Blossom”