Ballad

The Turkish carpet lay across the uneven floorboards that night,

Whorls of brocade that gleamed in the distance spiraled to faded gold.

My heel caught on the raised stitch and I stumbled.

You caught me and lead me in a slow dance to the rhythm of a ballad,

That could have been a battle hymn

Ground out on a scratched guitar,

Strings worn down, notes off-tune,

A premonition of things to come.

The rug had been striking once,

Woven into existence by mechanical hands in a warehouse in China,

(Don’t worry, the label Made in Turkey wasn’t added until it arrived in Ohio, stitched into place by an undocumented girl who pricked her finger on the needle and smeared the droplets of blood along the rug’s matching border)

Things only age in one direction,

Solid and ephemeral alike – carpets, ballads, love,

The gold thread and sharp notes worn to mustard yellow monotones,

Red-burgundy thread the color of dried blood turned rusty brown down to the mesh backing.

(Image credit: djedj from Pixabay )

Fortress

Image by Bernhard Rohm from Pixabay

Fortress

I don’t trust.

It has nothing to do with you.

It has nothing to do with our time

together on this earth.

My heart is a fortification

confining the transgressions of generations,

detaining their retributions from rampaging

across the sugar cane fields,

or scorching

the newly bloomed hibiscus flowers,

tearing

the wings off hummingbirds,

and leaving

nothing

but the tread of claws

scraped deep in the freshly-ashed soil.

Spirits of ancient offenses

sealed behind a wall slick with resentment

shielding others from contagion.

I’m not protecting myself from you

I’m protecting you from

Me.

Nights of Lights

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

Nights of Lights

Suspended lights whose glow glides against a smoldering sunset,

While the color of navy eyeshadow creeps an ashy stroke along a darkening sky.

Lightning bugs flutter between incendiary bodies,

Propagating waves across the uncompromising emptiness of space,

Landing like stardust on our already over-heated skin.

We wait for talismans,

Some message in defiance of the chaos,

Against chance and unforeseen encounters.

We take flight on brittle wings in search of a compass,

Any indication that this direction is better than that one,

This path is worth forgoing another,

Chasing, fluttering, darting, surging after the smallest hint

That our journey is something more than a Möbius strip,

An infinite path of repetitions and failures,

Or an endless flitting of moth wings around a rusted gas lamp,

Each flinging themselves against the flames,

All the while dreaming of the sun.

– from “Slant Rhyme,” a short romance featured in Heart’s Desire: A Contemporary Romance Collection from The New Romance Cafe.

All proceeds from this collection go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

About Slant Rhyme:

Belmira Saez (Bel) is a poet who struggles with anxiety.

Daniel Parker is an engineer whose life is at a crossroads.

Two lives in flux when Daniel stumbles into a bookstore during Bel’s poetry reading.

Two ordinary people in need of an extraordinary connection.

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Shadow Woman

woman-994737_1920Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Shadow Woman

I ask the darkness

What is woman?

I have no map to that country,

Etched in the moon’s blood.

When mother left, she took the compass with her.

I have not received

Such secrets as pass

From mother to daughter.

What else is there to find but a changeling.

A poor facsimile made of barely-sculpted clay

Abandoned in an unused kiln,

The form fashioned from an absent mold

Painted by the hand of an artist

Who only just recalls

The fleeting beauty of her model.

By Sera Taino

Phases

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Image by Florian Kurz from Pixabay

Phases

There are two of you,

Training ground for how to be

Both whole and fragmented.

I am me but I am also your mother.

I belong to me but I also belong to you.

There is enough of me for a multitude,

But sometimes, I am barely enough for myself.

The moon goes through phases –

New, waxing, full, waning,

With some quarters and halves in between –

So is the trajectory of my love,

The heart that empties,

Knowing it will grow full again.

Sera Taíno

Mounting Butterflies

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Mounting Butterflies

There was nothing remarkable about the way they died-
The usual love-hate-fight-leave-comeback lovedance,
The comfy dysfunction, the bruises and curses,
The scattered pictures, toys and books,
trappings of some shared yesterday.

But most deaths do not expose such fractured domesticity
Nor lay the burning embers of a humiliating need
To the examination of public opinion
or the recriminations of those who always know better.

So goes the reconstruction:
Another rejection, her firm resolve,
His refusal, a chase across the living room,
Flip-flops flung in flimsy flight,

A plea,
A scream,

And three bullets launched from the metal casing of darkness
Into the soft craniums of blood clots and love knots.

Not just two bodies sprawled on the yellow-tiled floor,
But love desiccated and pinned on its dried back
To be examined, buried, exhumed, and x-rayed
Under the righteous derision of youthful dreams.

Originally published in BellaOnline Literary Magazine, Winter Solstice Issue, 2017

Useful Things

coffee-1974841_1920Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Useful Things

The brown ceramic cups
Decorated in painted flowers
Peonies in amber
Meant for your morning tea
We found a pair of them while searching through the used shop
Rummaging for something useful
Something, but I no longer remember what
The memory has long been
Swallowed up in the recollection of those peony fields
Pink on bronze
Hairline chip
On the bottom
Slim handle
Easy to hold
Easier than holding onto you

The fissures inside us were too deep to keep us together
When you left, you took the unmarred one with you

Somewhere, in this boundless world
On a dawning day soaked in rain
Watering bouquets in the heart of spring
I will sip from my chipped cup
At the same time you sip from your whole one
And remember the smell of mold from the shop’s wooden shelves.

Originally published in BellaOnline Literary Magazine, Summer Solstice 2018 Issue