Evelyn (no. 141 of Women’s names sensual series)

Mind’s racing every day, but today—it’s still
since I hung up the phone, the doctor shared with me the news:
My sister is now dead—

Now I am all alone in the world; our parents are long gone,
& I see my son every other weekend.
My ex-wife has full custody; her new spouse & kids has a big house in the suburbs
& now I have no one else to call all mine.

No one understands when you lose a loved one, especially with one that shared
your DNA, but rearranged in another configuration,
that part in the heart keeps on beating, with a hole inside,
& you stop to catch your breath many times, you move in a different rhythm,
as if your heart is now worn on the outside.

A “Tollsib”: that’s me.
That’s the word I assign myself.
Those who lose their parents are orphans.
Those who lose their spouses are widows/widowers.
Those who lose their siblings need a word for their loss.
Tollsib sounds elegant, like I paid the toll to Death for my sister’s life.

I was somebody: a wife, a mother, & a sister.
Now, except for those weekends with my son,
I’m adrift, alone, with my heart outside.

Dear Tollsibs,
who hide their sibling’s memory so they can fit with the crowd
(not an only child), I hear you.

We need to be seen & understood, comforted & protected
from the elements, until our heart holes are fixed
& put back in our breastbones,
until we can be with our siblings again
in an unknown world.

Zahara (no. 137 of Women’s names sensual series)
Please don’t wake the woman
who’s sleeping on the 1 train.

Her houndstooth trousers & gray sweater
are still clean, if a little worn,
& she’s got some chopped apples & blueberries
safely housed in a plastic container,
a half-eaten yogurt in a plain carton,
& a Yerba drink
waiting on the floor
on this drizzly Sunday morning.

Only if you are a doctor,
or a well-meaning subway worker,
please don’t disturb her.
She’s keeping the peace,
Mr. Police Officer—
please don’t disturb her dreaming;
the train is rocking in her sleep.

Who cares if she’s a vagrant
or a wayward woman
carrying the weight of the world?
It looks like she hasn’t slept
for a hundred years—
a hard-enough life is finally
catching up with her.

Please let her sleep.
Don’t steal her breakfast or her gold,
or her knockoff Swatch
with a white plastic band on her wrist.
Her arms are crossed
upon her chest
as she rests—

Let her go; she’ll be okay.
I hope she is okay—
Please God, watch after her.

She— She—

Thinking about love

Love is present everywhere,
in many different forms,
not just bred for romance.

Take a chance;
hold your arms out
towards the Universes!

All will receive it.
Only when one is
ready & willing to receive,

to give as well as take,
to work & play hard,
to surrender fully,

to not fixate on false hopes
& not press their luck
on empty promises,

when jokes become serious,
when violence is recognized
& eradicated,

when the clueless gain understanding,

when children remember their parents
& to not blame or ridicule them,
when parents see their children as people
& to not blame or ridicule them,

when the pedestals are destroyed,
bubbles are burst,
worldviews transformed,

after digging out of inner abysses,
setting fire to slave-ships of bad thoughts,
taping over the vile voices one invents,
casting themselves down,
shooting themselves in the dark—

when the love of self is alive & kicking,
when the love of others is present,
love is real, tangible,
making the heart beat its dance.

Octopus dream

Mr. Jean-Pierre,
(a.k.a. another non-famous Lincoln),
the boats are sailing bravely from Dover,
across the Channel towards Calais & Paris,
but you just want to sleep—

The ink that escapes
from your newly-hewn tentacles
makes you disappear

& you can’t fit on the Golden Arrow train
with the glamorous single mothers
& their little boys who run fast
in the first-class lobbies,
throwing paper airplanes;
sitting down with their toy trains

but they were not made for the water.
Those who live in houses
with jeweled-lit windows by the shore,
they ride the rails.

Your brain is a library.
Even in the fog,
you are filled with imagination,
& your many arms are very strong.
You can take down the ferry if you wanted to,
like Kraken, but you don’t.

Snores send bubbles towards the surface.
Why did you travel so far from your home?

Your brood is waiting for you to return—
dozens of daughters & one son;
where’s your mate now? She’s gone.
Is she in Calais, speaking in a French accent?

& the other usage of your inner worlds
once had given you happiness,
but now you can’t sleep at night
without breathing through a respirator,
& the muses are still stoned,
& you’re living under the ocean alone,
& why are you camped outside of the French border?

Do you want to gather information
like those Chinese balloons
before they were shot down?
Did you want to gain some savoir-faire?
Are you trying to find a new love?

Arms outstretched,
cradling three separate shells in suckers.
You dream of people crossing the street
in a metropolis by the sea.

When you die, they will fish you out,
& send all your parts to Tokyo,
where you will be reversed, revealed,
revered & consumed.
They honor their dead.

Cities within cities.
Millions of bleeding hearts
pumping new Life,
struck down by Love.
The sea swallows them up
without mercy
as you guard the borders.


Sharing the same parents does not mean we are going to be the same;
we are different in every way, despite the DNA,
& our past was explosive. Our distances, resulting in thousands of miles
has kept us all calm & collected, no major storms troubling the water.

Time can be a healing balm,
keeping the materials away in safe distances has worked,
but only too well. Our lives are chaotic; many elements,
schedules & relationships have distracted us from the
original core of our beginnings. I am busy—you are busy;
it’s not a great time to get together. Kids have the flu,
the house is in shambles, your school’s in session, basketball
tournaments are set in stone; my husband’s case load is heavy in the Fall,
poetry is waiting, always waiting for the next spark—

We sparked with each other; we boiled hot & fast; we argued until we were blue.
Now, the map of the U.S. shows us living in different places,
forming an isosceles triangle, staying true to our separate dreams.
Our Dad once wanted all of us to live in the same cul-de-sac,
raising our families in the same neighborhood, forever.
But we had dreams of our own—the three of us burned too brightly.
Love is still our common element, beating & breathing even from far away.

Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a choral singer and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Mediterranean Poetry, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, Shot Glass Journal, Vita Brevis, Home Planet News, Cajun Mutt Press, Walt’s Corner, Polarity eMagazine, The Poetic Bond (VIII-X), Alien Buddha Press, Jerry Jazz Musician, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Rye Whiskey Review and First Literary Review-East. She is the Third Prize Winner of 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition (Rhyming Poetry) with her poem “Pink (A Ghazal)” (2022), and was recently nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. Her latest poetry collection, Shooting myself in the dark, was recently published by Cajun Mutt Press in January 2023. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she lives in New York City.  https://carriemagnessradna.com