POEMS

- by Katherine DeBlassie

AFTER

When your name covered this mouth
Salsa Sabrosa swayed through radio speakers
ˇNo se vayan! The radio announcer said
fumbling through what she would play next.
The fire began to flicker in the backyard.
Lua jumping everywhere.
Put her back on the leash, you told me,
but my Portuguese was bad, worse than
my broken Spanish. But I knew enough
never to want to hear your voice low,
talking to me the way you talked to your dog -
Stay— your first breath in and the word out
did not translate until the morning,
the sound of you leaving for work
and me all dressed up in sheets.


LEAVING TOWN

He was full of half-spoken things.
Words took shape in his hands,
hanging in the air
like the mobiles that lined
the ceiling of that tiny diner.
In the hotel room he told me
he didn't want my sex– asked me
to lie down, said he liked my face:
nose, mouth, eyes.
I didn't want him displayed
in memory (in my distorted way)
next to the others. Silence clung
to us, until it became a wall
of glass, keeping him from me
and keeping me from leaving the room.


THE INDEPENDENT

The pounding, their breath, like teenagers,
the girls were running too fast
for their own good.
While searching they passed what they were looking
for by accident, during the celebration.
It was the Michigan games the girls were preparing
for, or that's what they said.
Putting on or taking off pieces of clothing,
sharing with each other. The floral print skirt
dangled below her knees and now she wanted
to get rid of it. There are stacks of jackets
on her bed that she wore to church in the winter,
but she doesn't attend the sermons anymore
and her friend goes to church
only for funerals. Though she pretends to be disgusted
by churches, she admires the architecture of most
and secretly enjoys the bell at each hour.
The railroad tracks are her favorite, the empty ones,
without trains, it's only the promise of a train
that interests her, the moments before.
It was by these tracks, by the warehouse, where she first
experienced religion, where every sensation in her body
felt like a developed and separate person
lining up for an excursion.

Katherine Deblassie

Katherine DeBlassie (Senior Editor) was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize, her work has appeared in Zone 3 and other university publications. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland. Currently living in New York City she teaches at Harlem Children's Zone and works with various publications including Rattapallax and New York Moves magazine.