Three Poems by Caroliena Cabada

Small House

Our parents never kicked us
out of the nest, but now
that we’ve left, they can’t
leave it behind like
robins do every season—
stuck in the forks of an oak
or maple until the fallen
leaves reveal the hollow home.


Today, my anger was a falling knife

Today, a sanguine sunset filled
my vision—I blinded myself in
anger, self-inflicted. Why I am mad
was a small thing, a pebble gumming up
a gear. Today, I was an angel,
falling. Today, my anger was a falling
knife, gyrating on its long axis.
I keep my knives dull—yes, you
caught me—even though it’s dangerous.
By the time I get around to sharpening,
the urgency is gone. And this way the
blade I catch doesn’t cut.


Self-Portrait With Aphantasia

I write this poem with no inner eye—only
the words on this thin page appear
before me. There is ink that has still
not dried, transfers green on my arm
like grass stains. I can say whatever
I want, and you’d believe me: that I am
sitting on a freshly-mowed lawn near
the library, that I am letting an ant crawl
all over me, tracing the path that
a melted popsicle left. I can say
that I bleached my black hair bright blonde
and can still smell the chemical, even under
the scent of the green dye that makes me
look mermaid-like. I write this poem
imagining my ideal without images.
You can see her: right-handed, filling
up the blank page. Isn’t she beautiful,
the way she takes up space?


Caroliena Cabada teaches first-year composition and creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is earning her PhD in English. Her debut poetry collection, True Stories, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2024.

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