kaleidoscoping a sun-dressed mare

Lest my heart becomes a seagull, soars away—the world is a cold country—lest my heart effervesces in pyrogenic fever, leaving my body unlike a lamb, but a naïve bull running from red, hanging now in a slaughterhouse–

Lest my heart returns, let the River Styx make oaths I can’t keep while it sucks me down.. I need none of the falling stars’ safeguards, but over the tossed beer bottles and crack pipes in lonely fields, let my heart be turned out toward blown brambles from rain-city air while gray barbed wire breaks into my eye-sockets and grates against my lips—

You went missing. Purple Beauty Creeping Phlox blooms without you. Vespertine.

From beneath the moon-shimmer, dusty-white moonflowers blossoming, oh-so lusciously scented, keeping the city safe. Deadbolt. Homeless men barking, the night is alive. You are gone. My heart is simply gasping in blood, but the air—aroma alive. You are gone.

Lest my heart shrivels like a pumpkin or an old woman’s avocado-shaped breast—
Lest my heart never hears the sweet song of the coqui bulging so pretty near Flamboyan—

May my heart spin spastically, kaleidoscoping a sun-dressed mare.

Because I might not see you walking up the hill, coming, coming to me.

There you are, walking up the hill accompanied by angels–a glowering moon
an emaciated palace commiserating with the sorrow of gone-missing
still locked in with an Alukah and bleeding. Your hand reaches through
white mist and the hell of that moment-going-gone is still here.

Alukah as a blood-sucking witch who can fly like a bat when her hair is let loose and shapeshift into a wolf. A seductress with two demon daughters who cry “Give, give,” Alukah will die if her supply of blood is cut off.

 because there are eyes that see birds as telltale

when a train plows through me
it is the place where crows kiss and
crepuscular green grass grows like firefly teenagers
when I set my face to life
I have a hard time with that
lonely train, windows looking at me wondering
why I swallow a lungful of trailing brambles
the windows are cavities there are eyes that see birds as telltale
because birds are fed on omens and gunpowder
because the birds say the train is not coming
and for once I wasn’t hypervigilant and listened
to the birds and the train came. it is that militant train
which knows why not the windows wondering.

when a rapist plows through me
the quadriceps of gravediggers slam against
my vespertine wounds I lost my bird-heart
my earth-soul still far away so I grew thistle and jasmine
between my legs; I grew a birdhouse on my breasts
for myself so as to steal a home for myself
without no man’s hands rummaging through
my room in the world. when I look back and
wonder why I swallow a lungful of trailing brambles—
It is the gravedigger. The birdhouse. It is swallows
I swallow: that my husband’s gone missing
I return with my-earth that I left on the tracks
our bodies have grown together; oh, do I see a bird?
Bodies of birds and body of you become one in grimaces—
I see a bird. I don’t see you. I see a train. I see a gravedigger.
I don’t see you. You’ve gone missing.

I have missing pieces

One minute walking, next straight ground-down,
Puppy crying in circles,
Vena Cava stopped; my heart fled,
Vaporizing like a ladle of dregs
My heart still loves
Is it still woman still?
Poetry my love wrote I can’t find,
Missing along with his stonewashed jeans
I guess that a relic-thief lives in my body.

Where all the fallen women gather
To let their blood flow pouting into earth
The tight-fisted sun poking at the edges of our bodies,
Its bastion within a white dwarf star the world now
Where Lethe’s whispering sound departs with my pieces
Of you in my gone-heart. My puppy lies
Trembling from my body and finds yours.


I don’t want to think of the puppy I saw today while out on the main drag. Still,
I do. Could I have a puppy when my husband is gone? Wonderland-eyed puppy,

Looking up at me, as if we’re allied in sorrow, the pumice-hard sun turning her pretty
fur frosted like my mother’s beehive in 1965. And still, the puppy looks up at me,

already beginning to sit Shiva with me in the sudden wavering rain. Someone knows
where you are, someone dealing crack until your tongue lost itself in bloodstain while

you tried hard to talk: Tell me! who did it, you are still my husband. You had the sense
to hate sympathy. You said: You might as well hit me in the eye. Love me, and don’t be

one of those sickly women who feels sorry. Just love me. I took it to heart. I only said:
I love you. I wish I could take your demons and open the gates beyond crack-fever and

sweat and throw them into what lies beyond our world. I saw a LeConte sparrow tonight—
it reached me, a destination, but I knew because they prefer damp fields and I’m not there.

It watched me fall to my knees because someone knows where you are; someone knows
if you turned blue at twilight after buying bad drugs and meeting the end of God as you tried

to speak to me on the phone. Cops did nothing; my heart swelled to one thousand times its size, as if my body was a balloon or a home. You were my home. Blue and nights have been

stolen from me; as I combust, the cops do nothing. The gist of summer dies out in the moonlight. I’ve been sitting outside since you couldn’t speak at 5:07 p.m. Blue is silhouette;

it is an inability to accept that you’ve found your ideal, and someone thinks you’re the
ideal, an innocence of wonder that I loved you in spite of your high on Bazooka, your loss

of vivacity, the onset of your eyes as running arrows. I want to take that puppy and return
with it to some component of air, of still-ing—so that blue, which once was calm and

Cornflowers and Blue Linckea Sea Stars Is now the Anemone flower (Forsaken) and the
Blue Ringed Octopus, a sudden poisoning of the distance, will be forever, a cold kindling

of the flesh. Heart. Eyes. A cry unstoppable. Let me hermit with my new puppy; maybe
she’ll soothe my hurt at having to go on and live.


She will be silent, she will be migraine, and she will go walking.
She will wait for him to knock on the door.
She will remember the bad times as if they were good.
She will remember the two dozen purple roses and he copped a feel.
She will buy a platform bed but keep the box spring he’d wanted.
She will think of Nietzsche and that man has not come far,
when in moonlight, only moths come to call with kindness.
She will think of Nietzsche and that Truth might be attained too soon.
Up until tonight she’d thought she’d see Jose’s hair bobbing fancy and curly
as a head-dress, as he walked in that bounce, up the curving hill.
She will freeze at the photo booth in front of H& M, her alluvial nonchalance
over. He’d wanted to take photos with her. She’d said, oh,
no, precisely. She didn’t know why. Rain, pocks, the blowing of gnats and
mosquitoes. She forgets how to use language.
She will remember how he called her breasts mosquito bites.
She will remember saying but they are roundy and that he copped a feel.
She will unfasten her eyes, place her ears on the sink.
She will call herself Oleander (Beware) and place signs
on her nightstand. She will begin to melt away like a Lilac
(First emotion of love) in drought-stress and spill her Sofrito rice
all over her doused failing Hyacinth (Beauty).
She will marry chocolate swirl Brioche and sexy shoes believing
he’s beside her handing her money. She will cry as she remembers
how he cleaned the bathroom at a computer store to pay for her
broken tooth. She will cry because he warred with demons, because
he heard voices, and because he’d put his hand on her face:
just to see that you’re real, baby.
She will try to undress her grief as she puts on her nightgown
but his burning hand—is that him? —is copping a feel.

Nanette Rayman-Rivera, author of poetry books, Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, two-time Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net 2007, DZANC Best of the Web 2010, winner Glass Woman Prize for prose. Publications: The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (mentioned newpages.com), Stirring’s Steamiest Six, gargoyle, sundog, Berkeley Fiction Review, Editor’s Pick prose at Green Silk Journal, Pedestal, ditch, Wilderness House, decomp, Contemporary American Voices, featured poet at Up the Staircase, Rain, Poetry & Disaster Society, DMQ, carte blanche, Oranges & Sardines. She lives with her puppy, Layla.