Blackberry Birds & Other Poems

by Lana Bella

Blackberry Birds

You woke inside my skull,
supping on camphor which
castled and queened like
bodies of clay you left under
my blackberry birds. Before
I knew not to starve for you,
I lay wings over the heads of
beachcombers, overwrought in
my frostlined weight, sloping
laterally into nothing until all
that endured was porous bone,
formless back fused through
malleable womb of Hanoi sky,
layered with red moon dust.
Your eyes segued with atrophy
of a wired winter, eaves bower
like ghosts among the chattel
of chalcedony, mouth felled
silenced from a throat arid of
tornado country, crowning you
with purrs of cicadas canting
your memories of home, and me.


The Unquiet Grave

Bend my lips to the tiny rushes of
grace, I sought your name against
pale wrists of water. Long ago, I’d
carved you out of the yellow river,
pearled discursive speech from a
purist ache of enterprise. Then the
downturned sun pinked dawn and
swam you out to sea; your infant
lungs heavy with the way between
sky’s point of axis and engine-cast
sails. Salved as small echo in pale
throat of void, I kept still beside you
when the whitecaps grew high and
grief charted ruins by foul weather,
with the passing of peaks and shore-
line impaled by inchoate history. So
I lay a conjurer of my requiem, with
you an island covered in fish scales,
sweeping fins slept with macadam as
pillows, riddled with the symmetry
of the grey-ghost ocean, waves warm.


Dear Suki: Number Sixty-Seven

Dear Suki: Red River, Vietnam, 56′,
this was the letter in which, you,
darling, became the brave poem of
a drought catalog. Now the tercet
cupped inside my weighed hands,
gurgling in the wake of interstellar
dusts and celestial fireworks. Jade
water lapped at weary stones, took
pity where vessels cast up spumes
so light your grin filled with electric
sparks, teasing the air above eaves
of kisses and lies. The quiet behind
your teeth held in my eyes, ignited
the summer’s marbled bones where
old whispers kept at the airy edge of
linguistic spendthrift, too weak yet
to rustle from memory alone. Lover
of excess, the gondola ensconced in
crag and fern as you stepped into a
pair of satin heels and side-walk red
silk—the water held your secrets still.


Blackberry Birds & Other Poems


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