photo by Elizabeth

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. 

Claude McKay, 1921 

Shenandoah Literary



          Born six weeks early, I’d oozed out on one of Biloxi’s sweltering moldy nights as Mom screamed Screw this fucking kid, just give me the goddamn cigarette! 
          Having clamped and cut my cord, the doctor pushed back on his rolling stool and handed me to a nurse who shoved me in an incubator. 
          I should have fallen like refuse from a plane, fallen into that purgatory called adoption, called foster care, fallen anywhere but back to her, yet by chance I was her last pawn against Dad, a pawn she continued jabbing even after stealing every piece she could from him, even after he’d conceded that he’d ruined her figure, her reputation, her life, and long after he’d introduced this movie star wanna-be to his family who’d just lost their land. Land that had survived the Civil War and Great Depression fell through their pale fingers like cigar ash flicked by shrewd brokers who’d leapt through Wall Streets’ fiery loopholes with the surrealistic aplomb of circus bareback riders. 
          Now even their future was lost to a daughter-in-law who was so goddamn crazy she’d laugh like a barking clown every time she told me this story.

Thank you to the editors of Doorknobs and BodyPaint for first publishing this piece.

In This Dream  

poem & photo by Elizabeth


They’re here!
I rip the package,
pull sheer stocking over toes, ankle, shin, 
beyond the line where prosthesis extends my leg.
This hosiery will animate prosthetic limbs, 
transform molded resin into skin,
skirts soon fluttering along my thighs 
as I skip on these feet, 
attract with these calves, 
no longer rolling on wheels or 
hiding my legs from pitying stares. 

I will be normal. 

Yet as I examine my stockinged leg, 
I discover the turquoise seam 
marking the boundary of prosthesis and flesh. 

Deformed, dependent, tricked by desperate hope, 
I fold and cry, knowing I’ll never look or walk like others. 

Perched on a nearby boulder, my Soul-body marvels 
at the powerful wings unfurling from between my hunched 
shoulders, grief shrouding me from their luminous tips 
as they rise toward the sun. 

Thank you to the editors of riverbabble for first publishing this poem.