Five Poems

Lana Bella

Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/Flickr (CC-by)

Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/Flickr (CC-by)

Life Flight

I traverse
through this shitty place,
stepping on the vertebrae of my own noisy ghost,
its fingers yawn with exposed skin
scraping across the asphalt
beneath my feet like rodents with calluses
tuning a craggy madrigal,

night drops down on the splints of
grass-shorn bed,
I look up to the sky, tracing my eyes across
where the dew-capped hills
are a full measure colder than here,
below it, there is a narrow brook
the long veins of home trickling beneath
the wilting ornamental kale,

my blood floods in,
begging for the kind of happiness that shifts
toward home, toward the tides and storm,
toward the bohemian bent of
the woodpeckers pecking
the soggy woods that is my bedpost,

the soul is a vagabond
with many hands and feet that return the body
to its birthing place:
skinny and melancholic,
any day now, a cadre of oxygen-fed commotion
will wake up the old dusky flight,
where every skyline I’ll see
is forever and always—


A Brutal Kind of Leaving

tufts of wool,
red signals amid blue whims
of careless fingers,
she is a moving trajectory
holding onto my hand,
on the roads I’ve walked many miles
staring into men’s eyes,
bemused at their sadness,

her hands,
holding the tea cup now,
avoiding the lipstick trail splaying
to disappointment,
her lips,
careful to sift through
the loose tea leaves and tepid water,
giving pause where
the weight of sighs is chained
to the bottom like anchors,

clicks of joints announce
her clumsy push from the table,
I turn back,
fastening still to the length of her city,
but it seems I am looking
to a distant place
where all past recedes to,

old souls float near each other
as if asleep, pale, dark faces,
all beautifully shaped,
exploded like dandelion plumes in wind,
and yet,
I am no longer welcome there,
for the woman I love most is wearing all
the bodies I left behind—


Chocolate Indigo Bowl

all over the narrow hallway,
small moving boxes stack atop the large, bulky ones
blue duct-tape drapes crosswise and down
over black etched letters
of the “to” and “from” addresses—

I sit at the edge of the chaise longue,
divorced from an invitation to settle in,
already, things are broken,
already, there’s a crack on mother’s chocolate indigo bowl,

its smooth ceramic plate
is now lined with a telling slit of an old back street,
of mother’s pottery shop drips in light,
of her head that always leans just so against
the poised jazz crescendos of Nina Simone,

with mother’s wear are relentlessly soiled,
and her soft-petaled hands cupping over the clay wheel,
coning up then palming down,
drawing forward while pitching back,
on a chocolate indigo bowl,

like a memory queuing
for that important berth in history,
I glimpse of a balmy afternoon by the landing pier,
tongue gently coaxes the creamy milky foam
from the chocolate pool of cocoa and melting marshmallow,

an index finger traces over the dry silicon
where the crack once held,
with the sun setting beneath the horizon,
I sip the luscious drink from my chocolate indigo bowl,
nearly dying of delight—


Room #31

Hands steeped into a reprieve,
legs walked the starved hallway where the air was
as defiled as feigned innocence,
gold eyes flicked to the end of the corridor,
lids peeled back before her sight took hold of
the hundred souls wandering,
cries percussed upon walls in words that smeared
her skin from the many toothless smiles
and sorrow sprayed wide in a tapestry
of crimson rain,

she walked into Room #31,
her father’s head lay on a pillow,
anchored between sour lime walls and
the tasteless air that seemed to pervade the place,
her father’s bed, cold and wrinkled,
its white sheets bundled tenuous flesh,
entombing his translucent bone like an incubator,
mouth aired as a baby bird waiting for feed,
a knit cap girdled his shaven head, pulling taut
over the skin that no longer sensed her touch,

he woke in startle as a living dead exhaled,
coughing, spewing dark phlegm from his famished maw,
plopping down at the edge of the bed,
she could feel her sadness dangling over the metal rails,
sensing it sank down the crisscrossed grouts on the tiled floor
where her quiet feet were deprived of direction,

she remained in repose,
a hyphen between a child and an adult,
spine curled back into the winter coat that was bunched
about the chest to waistline,
because her breaths were hardened and waiting,
waiting for his fingers to close over hers,
while lips reflected to the strange windowless room
from which he has been sleeping.


Scissored Hands

then you start from the bird-like neck,
stitch me where the pleats
dress into further gold
of the needle’s eye
as it tears down a ribbon of flesh,
binding to the long muscles
of chenille against
the horizontal blood clotting,
but you could only pull the needle
once more before my backbone
is pressed back
into the silhouette riddles of holes,
and there I lay stiff and perpendicular to
the mortised spiderweb
shrooming out of my scissored hands

pencilA Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is an author of two chapbooks forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press and Finishing Line Press, has had her poetry and fiction featured with over 180 journals, Chiron Review, Coe Review, Columbia Journal, Elohi Gadugi, Foundling Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Galway Review, Gravel Review, Harbinger Asylum, Literary Orphans, Lost Coast Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Quarterly, Roanoke Review, Sentinel Quarterly, and elsewhere, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps. Email: lana.bella[at]

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