Two poems by Nicole Caruso Garcia

Sijo for Two Sparrows

Two sparrows are beak-deep in
        tire-flattened rest stop French fries,
more or less content to peck
        an ecstasy of sun-warmed trash
here beside the Jersey Turnpike,
        when they could fly anywhere.

*

What Were You Wearing?

Because the body is a temple,
I wore the wakeful song of birds,
Lay safe beside my lover, still.

Because the body is a temple,
When he trespassed like a vandal,
I had no robe but words.

Because the body is a temple,
I wore the wakeful song of birds.

*

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 nicolecarusogarcia.com.

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 nicolecarusogarcia.com.

Four Poems by Nicole Caruso Garcia

Landay #4

Cancer takes his wife before fifty,
the boy who, one June night, tossed clothespins at my window.

 

Ghost Ship

At a distance, candles guttering
can look like party lights. The way a ghost ship
might seem from shore.

It may have seemed I was carousing. It may
have hurt you seeing my illuminated
decks, my painted flags livened by wind.

Despair is so immaculate a plague.
A healthy vessel still will float, although
you pillaged all the spirit from its hold.

A ship like that may run aground or wreck
against the cliffs.

Adrift between the quick and the dead,
it is not sorry, does not love or hate—
it lists.

 

When They Called My Name at Graduation

Perhaps you cast one final sidelong glance.
Across the lawn I drifted, a buoyancy
that everyone mistook for joy, despite
the chiseled smile of my figurehead,
the stirring of my black and aimless sails.

 

At the Field’s Edge

I knelt & dug

was there another choice? / I had to
clear these stones these land
mines if / I hoped
to get across

no sharper pace / if I hoped
to ever plant one good
green thing

 

Nicole Caruso Garcia is Assistant Poetry Editor at Able Muse and a Board member at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. Her most recent poems appear or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Light, PlumeRattleSonora ReviewSpillway, and Tupelo Quarterly, with previous work in Measure, Mezzo Cammin, New Verse NewsPANKThe Raintown Review, RHINO, and elsewhere. Visit her at nicolecarusogarcia.com.