Two Poems by Nicole Caruso Garcia

In Praise of Gray

My graying hair, for now, is free of dye.
There’s darkness plenty in my alibi,
No rage against the youth-obsessed. (I’m vain.)

       I’ve reached the age my mother was if she’d been
       Roused from sleep to go identify
       My body, had I bled it. In sterile light,
       She would have clutched my father as they cried,
       Their firstborn’s hair forever chestnut brown.

My graying hair—
Hurrah!— it grows more wiry and defiant,
A crown to celebrate and testify
I’m here. And though I never can atone
For the crush of dawn they’d nearly known,
Just look: the sunlight can’t deny
My graying hair.


Easy Money

The mother made a point of telling me
that she would leave for work before the dad.
Before he left for work, we’d be alone.
So what? I’d been alone with dads before.
They’d drive me home and wave goodbye.

Easy money, and I knew the drill:
Just watch the kids. Give piggybacks.
Cut crust off PBJs. Tie shoes.
No diaper changing. Kids both potty-trained.
Braid Barbie’s hair and settle squabbles.

The mom and dad stood opposite the sofa,
gestured, Sit. The standard interview,
except arm’s length from where I sat there was
a year of Playboy fanned out on the table.
A cache of skin mags spread out like hors d’oeuvres

unnerves. Like bath time in the Barbie Dreamhouse,
there lay a mansionful of plastic flesh tones,
soaped and oiled. Act casual, I thought.
This was not my parents’ coffee table—
not Family Circle, Road & Track.

The summer of the naked harbingers.
I’d seen the whisper-pouts of lacquered mouths
and faintly heard them: Run.


Nicole Caruso Garcia is Associate Poetry Editor at Able Muse and a Board member at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. Her poems appear in Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Light, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, PANK, Plume, The Raintown Review, Rattle, RHINO, Sonora Review, Spillway, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. Visit her at

Fire and Flood by Kristin Garth

Fire and Flood
(as two Barbie Dreamhouses)

Some have a Barbie dreamhouse as a child.
First I bought, myself, my 20’s, with cash
compiled in strip clubs, a girl going wild
in plaid. Until a stranger lit a match
to burn down everything I had accrued
with lewd choreography. Second an
abuser bought for me, an overdue
idyllic acrylic home that’s briefly
my own, reparations I will choose
to accept. Plastic families are easy
to protect, it would seem. This one I lose
by flood, recluse who lets nobody
in, no men, though this strategy is flawed.
Even plastic is not safe from acts of God.


Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net and Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream, The Meadow and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir. Read her poetry journal Pink Plastic House a tiny journal where she is the Dollhouse Architect. Listen to her weekly sonnet podcast called Kristin Whispers Sonnets on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Visit her site and talk to her on Twitter @lolaandjolie