lana bella

 

A KISS OF SMOKE

what does it say about a woman 
when she feels this need to be 
“lived in”?

last night, he said behind a veil
of dark and a kiss of smoke, I do
not want a stillness of place, and
most of all, I do not want a still-
ness of a woman, 

what does that even mean? Those
words leave fingerprints of a man
who goes everywhere, yet arrive 
nowhere, for at some point in his
life, he must desire a place that
lends stillness,

and a person from whom said still-
ness is necessary, and a stillness 
that does not bear from sadness or 
pain, but one in which this kiss of
smoke lets him the freedom to be still,
and how not to run far searching for
subjects to ignore–

 

ALL THE WRONG WAYS

I have raised the sledge 
and driven the nail,
silent and heinous as
a sleeve-worn ache,
then palpable as red
birds released over
night-tangled boughs.
Now, as an old woman 
back in her stilled land,
I shed the last sepals 
of all the wrong ways
that had bruised white
like skin of hydrangea, 
baffling the thin line
of rush that has kept me 
from ringing the salvation 
bell. But, now I must go
for my heart was fading
so dim it can feel all 
sides of the black coffin.

 

ANGINA PECTORIS

That pain across 
his chest 
was a caveat shot.
The convulsions 
mingled with 
his bulging eyes 
became something 
else less 
extraordinary 
that I can calmly 
capsize with 
two fatal winks.
He compressed into 
a shadow on 
the still quagmire 
at my feet;
his small voice 
conched up from 
the pulpy neck, 
flitting through
the apathy 
I trafficked on 
the dragway he 
toppled resembling
a cut rock. 
So what did it mean 
when he caught
me looking down
from different eyes,
when his tears were 
already dried on 
my party dress
and his heart
splayed open
like iced shavings,
as my lips pursed to 
some narrative arcs
of reverie, and him 
a pawn in my cosmic 
accouterments?

 

ANOREXIC BONES

you rip yourself 
out of sodden,
anorexic bones,
but in this snow, 
there is only icecap 
moving across 
the metal taste of a 
pistol in your mouth–
the creases of years
fan out from your eyes,
with tracks of infections
purse thin in spurious
escape, softly now
you appease you 
with blood rises to 
your fingertips, 
where the alloy jolt
is holding your neurons
for ransom–
later, you will check
for crimson smears on 
speckled snow
against the sprays
of the winterberry bush–

 

B.T.S

He looks at me, fingers digging into my skin to stop from shaking. 
Eyes of keen emerald kiss the air like tiny green dancers on glass, 
and suddenly all around, skein of darkness, slate and warm, draws 
near, blinking a thousand atoms from the midnight sun. Breaths 
delay, whose notes turn into a gilded lake, with marine things and 
our bodies swim on leaflet folds. Sharp scent of tropical rum is cool 
with mango bite where his lips touch mine, my thoughts run from 
cranium to heart, words echo with sounds caught in a half-gasp and
half-kiss, yet intimate like a muffled sleep–a sleep that neither he 
nor I, has grown tired of sleeping. And the night pegs down, stitches 
our skin in a garment of silk, his cheek presses against mine, with
flesh so gold and bones a trove of feathers sailing on board-wood floor.
As he carries me up the stairwell, how my fingers feel moved to pluck
a tulip from the brass pail above the book shelf, pink and softly
bloomed. So, I lean in, licking the baying beats of his throat against
my tongue, syllables spell out four letters of his name.

 

BLACK MOON

The bitter taste of black moon furls 
upon the tongue of the earth.
Like tar.
Black sluice dissolves of liquid ghosts,
seeping into the oozing taste buds. 
Caresses through the cracks 
where gummy pits dressed the bones.
Seeps below the stirring chasm 
in a bog fulls of sundews, 
steals away from sight before it sinks
utterly inside, emptily mute.
Skin is peeled and inky dark is shed.
Suffocating in its laconic breaths,
the black moon stares through a filter
of crimson light.
Drifting.
Distantly.
To where the pulse grows dim
and sleep girdles the silver-wrought sun.

 

BLIND GIRL

It was the droplets 
beaded on her hairline 
that trickled down 
the pelican neck, 
and for a few lingering 
briefs of cigarette smoke, 
she skipped with
calf-high boots over 
thistle jaws of grass as
thick lines of August
air tasted hot on 
her tongue.
Sweat-pale she 
rose, and stiff-straight, 
her fingers turned
the back-lit handle on
the French door 
like sun-rise tugging at 
sleeping eyes,
something she has always 
held in pleasing care, 
as if it gave sight for 
a blind girl such as her.

 
 
BLUE MASON JARS

Father, 
yours words to which I ran 
and hid from years ago, 
are now my talisman 
that I keep
in blue mason jars. 
Once and again,
on the year end of
your passing,
I set a shrine in
your memory
by the lit hearth near
the front window.
As always,
with its long wings
shivering against
the winter cold,
a symphony of waiting
cracks through the sky.
Outside,
the moon tosses
the earth a fairest silk,
as streetlight casts 
a thin shadow of what
looks like you,
looking in.
Father,
can you see
your timeworn letters 
from the blue mason jars
that I’m spilling into
my upturned hands and
spinning again their sounds 
on my tongue 
with their nocturnal weight?

 

CARA MIA

these days, 
my fretful mind perches with 
the wings of doves, 
giving chase to a life strapped to
this wheelchair, 
but my heart is charged with the speed 
that is quick to love you, 
yet often remiss in
the fitful balance 
of this waning memory–
 
my fingers which had once
peeled the white off 
your bridal veils, 
now leap from the flesh of
this September heat 
onto the emergence of hazy speech, 
leaving once more in flight over
my azure eyes glinting
of briny weeps–

cara mia, 
please don’t think
I had forgotten 
the memoir 
of our grand suite 
on the coast of Amalfi, 
for the languid lisp of the sea 
still presses its psalms against 
my ventral plate glass,
waking the mercury-poured adagio 
that quietly anchors me here,
dragging my inadequacies downwards
the depth of us–

 

CONCRETE

I have cast down 
empires with my sad eyes,
draped paramours
with crinoline sash beneath sharp
blades of guillotines.

I fought them to exorcise
their hatred, even 
my prayers fell through dirt searching
for water, where
rain had dried into wind.

It was said if I cry hard
enough I will remember my point 
of departure, before I had 
to silence everything 
that left me. 

So there I was, 
my mind’s hands couldn’t steeple 
into a reprieve,
I weighed then the idea of my primordial, 
of becoming a knot,
wrestling in leakage of moral perfidies,
drawing mercy from concrete. 

 

DARKLY YOU GAZE INTO THE DAYS AHEAD

In the city, your 
footsteps leave 
no sound. On 
the train ride 
home, your cries of 
thirst ache alone 
and strangle 
you with a mantra 
of fists. Soon 
you will fall into 
bed where 
your lover’s ghost 
pricks your house of
stones so sharp all 
the dust spill 
inside out. 
Somewhere there
is a man who 
really loves
the wreckage 
of you, whose 
fingers are needles
that stitch you to
the underside 
of skin and bone
of your gun’s trigger,
wanting to know
you better in death.

 

DEAR SUKI, LETTER S FOR SAPA

Dear Suki: Sapa, March 21st, upon the sleeper berth on 
the train from Hanoi to Sapa, you sleep soundly, your pale 
face punctuates with the rustic dawn. You have this sloppy 
airs coded in bleached out weight of the abstract, like one 
would find on vintage snapshots of urchins with their untidy
yet clever forms, suffering only in the need to be more than 
ordinary, but a sight always of seamless wingbeats for the 
starved eyes. Our rickety engine tears from one end of the 
wet terrain through serpentine rice paddies, then skirts the 
edge of Hoang Lien Son mountains draped in mist. I sip stale 
café as cold breath of morning pulls its trigger in low hanging 
clouds. My palm takes hold of the sea of yawns, drawing me 
back into the sleep that will have me hunkered down beside 
you. This late world engine against the agrarian landmark is 
my homecoming without a travel book, as long as I can rough 
draft memories ever so softly across your face. 

 

 


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