Sheila Black


So many ways to be ruined.  In the stone squares around
the Placa, discarded needles, a spray of blood,
the words of the murdered poet.  Green like the wild
horses.  A girl eats bread absently, crumbs falling
from her long fingers.  A wounded pigeon hops on one
leg.  The stones themselves are pitted, scarred
here.  When the revolution ends, men hold stones
in their mouths to stop them from speaking.  Never
enough wine or bread no matter how often it
is multiplied.  In the church, the crooked child wishes
to be something else.  A length of smooth wood,
a stick that would help someone walk or beat
a man with a sound like wind.  Cruelty sprouts in
the slender weeds between the cobblestones.  Anything
better than to be always crushed this way.  We, too,
came here hungry.  Brandy and coffee in the cheap
cafes, so many cigarettes our throats ached in
the mornings.  What was dying between us briefly
lovely—a respite from our seasons of slow bickering.
In the cathedral, built like a child's dribbled sandcastle,
the slashes of light in the darkness, saying there would
be an after, saying we would get through this, and
the stairway with its warm smell of piss and sour wine,
where we climbed into the bleaching light, where we
understood what it would be to be forgotten.

Sheila Black received her MFA in Poetry in 1998 from the University of Montana.  Her poems have appeared in numerous print and on-line journals, including Diode, Copper Nickel, LitPot Review, DMQ Review, Willow Springs, Poet Lore, Ellipsis, Blackbird, the Pedestal and Puerto Del Sol. In 2000 she was the U.S. co-winner of the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize, given to one U.S. and one Mexican poet living along the U.S. Mexico Border.  Her first book, House of Bone, was published by CustomWords Press in March 2007.   A chapbook How to be a Maquiladora appeared from Main Street Rag in January 2007.  A second book, Love/Iraq is forthcoming from CustomWords Press in late 2008.  She is currently the Visiting Poet at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.



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