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October 8th, 2019

Lee Rossi

Eileen Malone

Lee Rossi

Lee Rossi is a winner of the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Steve Kowit Prize. His latest book is Darwin’s Garden, from Moon Tide Press.  Recent poems appear in The Southwest Review, Rattle, Spillway, The Chiron Review and The Southern Review He is a member of the Northern California Book Reviewers and a Contributing Editor to Poetry Flash.

Instructions to My Teenage Self

the next time you go for a walk in the world
remember the stories you heard as a child

a girl goes to visit her grandmother
two kids get lost in the woods—

those stories—
remember, the woods are not just woods but the whole world

and everyone you meet there
is either a wolf or a witch

they may not look like a wolf, or a witch
they may look like your grandmother, some kindly old lady or

like some cool dude who knows his way around
they may even look like you

but don’t forget the stories
all they want is to eat you

even your parents
by the time you get home

if you get home
you won’t recognize them, or rather

you’ll recognize them for the first time
the wolf and the witch you’ve been living with all along

by now, you’re part wolf, part witch yourself
how do i know? who am i?

i’m a bird, a bug, the woods, the wind
i’m that other part of you

the part that’s left
after everything else has been eaten

the part that fails it’s way into the future
i am you, who survives

Say Anything

At first I couldn’t say anything.
I was a bobbin wound with silk

beginning its long migration
through skirt or inseam, hemming

and hawing. I was afraid of truth
and so was given many truths,

all of them huddled
on the windward side of the cliff.

I did not speak to the cliff,
and it did not speak to me.

I spoke instead to my mother,
her roots diving into the restless soil

like genies who forget their powers,
the power to reverse time,

the power to make the dead see
who they really are,

and thus be revived.
My mother spoke quietly

shaping the wind into syllables,
a language I would never learn to speak.

Don’t get me wrong.
I did learn to speak.

There was fire, and buildings
tumbled to the ground.

I searched and found
plastic forks, plastic dolls, tricycles.

I wore them around my neck—
amulets against the future,
Say Anything (p.2)

or the past (they didn’t seem that different,
not then,

and not now.) But now I’ve given up my search.
(You knew that.)

I have found as much of the truth as I can carry,
and even so, it is too much,

this load of wood, this raven feather,
each step pressing me further into the ground.

Eileen Malone

Eileen Malone has published her poetry in over 500 literary journals and publications and been nominated for Pushcarts four times. Her award winning chapbook Letters with Taloned Claws was published by Poets Corner Press (Sacramento) and book I Should Have Given Them Water by Ragged Sky Press (Princeton) and most recently It Could Be Me, Although Unsure by Kelsay Books. She founded and directs the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and is a voting member of the Northern California Book Reviewers Awards. She has worked with the California Poets in the Schools Program and taught a local bay area community colleges.

www.eileenmalone.us
www.soulmakingcontest.us

GIRL-MOTHERING

I blow apart dandelion fluffs
scatter winged seeds over
primroses, marsh marigolds
things unsaid, undone between
my daughter and myself

a ewe approaches her lamb
that nibbles a half-curled frond
of fiddlehead fern into the shape
of an unknown alphabet’s capital letter
found in secret text on girl-mothering

words impossible to transcribe
shaped like the tender surrenders
I could have had with her, letting
her know she wasn’t traveling alone
when she thought she was

how I should have stood guard
when the ravenous wolf who crouched
in her shadow lay lightly down and slept

a ewelamb spins and kicks
trots into and out of daughterhood
too fast, will probably be fed
and bedded, cared for, protected
a few more months
then slaughtered, butchered

the mother bred again, or sold as mutton

there is no absolution
nothing to forgive but time
and its disappearance

and nothing left
but dandelion puffs and
the scarlet fall of a lost ladybug
caught in a cowslip
trampled under hoof.

HOW SHE BRUSHED HER HAIR

I would watch her, sit on the edge of her bed
the reflection of my barefoot boy-self
out of range in her dressing table mirror
watch my beautiful mother
brush her blackly beautiful hair
the kind of hair that begs to be taken out dancing
and when I think of dancing I think of her step
light ankled like the wild Sika deer

I remember how she brushed her hair
up from the mystery that was herself, catching it
twisting it into a Celtic knot, singing
with the voice of blackbird, her throat whiter
than any lily wet with sun

but that was then, and this is now
before she stopped singing, dancing
banished me from sitting on that same bed
she took to, refused to rise from
let the tangles wither in her hair
tossed in fever and deliriums and began to die
and die and die and die

and all I want to do is write about her hair
her hair, the kind of black hair
found only on young Irish women
straight, silken in its awful glamour of black
how I would sing into the harp of it
silvered with sheen and she would sing back
kissing me to sleep her midnight black hair
a halo of incessant scent of daffodil breath
tea leaves, lily of the valley

sometimes when the boy becomes the man
we have to change the truth
in order to remember someone
the way we want to
–I turn the mirror to the wall.