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TWO POEMS – Alise Versella

on January 4 | in Poetry | by | with No Comments

The day
Is frenetic energy
Neutrons bouncing in a nucleus- the walls of this
I stop to percolate
Filter the day through me like water through coffee beans
Bustelo takes me back
To a particular time of day
The way
My father takes
The Sambuca
To an espresso cup, much too small for his callused and arthritic hand
Places a twirl of lemon curl
Wet around the rim and drops it in
The bitter bite, a harpoon
To drown the days demons down
His nerve damaged spine, slackening
Back relaxing
My father, captain, loud at the helm
For a few hours in the afternoon
Most days we circumnavigate the globe of his moods
Each coffee cup or shot glass a different port
Heaven Hill after an argument
Two cups of coffee or three
On the previous night’s sleep
My father does not sleep
Years of shift work
Shifting the meridians
Of his body
Most children
Think themselves polar opposites
Of their parents
But I am finding
The coffee is staining my teeth
It becomes harder and harder for me to fall asleep
Is this predisposition
This need for bitter comfort,
The espresso
And expression
A confession
Because I did not go to catholic school
Cannot recite a Hail Mary
But I am full of grace
In this caffeinated state
Café Bustelo, salvation
As the scent of if fills my nostrils
For a moment I breathe deeply
And relax, like my father, into the warmth of the sun
Streaming in through the
Kitchen window
On a hectic afternoon.

One day the armies of little boys who saw no other future

than to sacrifice their bodies for money
Will come home from the foreign countries
Whose languages and cultures they were ordered to burn
One day old men will realize borders are pretend
Gates we erected with spikes because white picket fences could not exist for them
One day maybe in another decade little boys will stop fighting wars with little boys
Reminiscent of days on playgrounds where toy airplanes were built from paper
Could not propel bombs the bombs were crayons
Today I can’t read the paper
Most days I can’t face the news
This does not make me naïve, a poet hippie who believes love will save us
It won’t
She hasn’t been loved back for a while she knows
It takes more than love to save the world
But these days I am afraid and my nerves jangle

like plastic skeletons on Halloween
They don’t look like decoration anymore they look like warning
My dead walk the streets each morning
Slowly dying at jobs we hate
But they pay for our portion of the world
We stand ready to defend our corner
I feel like I am suffocating to protect a corner patch of weeds
Nothing has grown here for awhile
I do not have my father’s green thumb
I do not know which seeds I have inherited but I do not want them
The seeds are on fire
The kids are not alright
I must admit I grow more terrified of walking to my car at night
I do not know what more to write
We’ve been typing out the same old ink
I argue in my own mind each night
Try to reconcile poetry as medicine
When it’s medicine we cannot afford
I do not know anymore the point.

Tomorrow I will get out of bed
I will commit to do the work the only way I can
So tomorrow, while the new decade burns, I will write a poem
Alise Versella is twice nominated for the Pushcart, and A Best of the Net nominated contributing writer for Rebelle Society. She is the author of the full-length When Wolves Become Birds (Golden Dragonfly Press 2021) and the forthcoming chapbook Maenads of the 21st Century (Dancing Girl Press). She has been published widely in such journals as the Opiate, Crack the Spine, Steam Ticket, Penumbra Literary and Arts Journal, Luna Arcana, Soup Can Magazine, The Poeming Pigeon, Circle Show, White Stag Journal, El Portal, Evening Street Review, Press Pause Press, and Soundings East. Versella has worked with Women’s Spiritual Poetry, whose latest anthology, Goddess: When She Rules, raised money for the Malala Fund. Kirkus has called her “…[A] boundlessly energetic and promising technician [who] crafts a unique blend of the symbolist and the confessional; a talented, promising newcomer.” She performs throughout New Jersey and across Zoom screens and has taught Poetry as Power in local libraries and schools.

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