By Alise Versella

God Give Me Forever

The cold break of day
The burst of chlorine—ice-sting against just-shaved legs
I have never been one to jump into things
I wonder if I will always let every option weigh heavily against me
                 that I simply throw every option away
Drown beneath the deep. An ocean is the question, “What comes next?”
 
I see my feet at bottoms of pools and do not swim to
           the other end
I do not go where I cannot float
I do not test my buoyancy
               that one deep breath in the lungs could hold me
I know all my boundaries
I splash around in the shallow end until my thumbs start pruning
 
Do I stay too long?
Above with the aid of some
             pool noodle to keep me afloat
I could simply dive under and hold my nose
I have grown accustomed to
Doing everything I have to
             with one hand
 
One time I tried swimming out to a sandbank
I choked on the Atlantic
 
When I can’t find the edge of things, my hands seek out a railing
 
I never learned to swim
Should I let it
Make me barnacle encrusted to the piling
            Anchor in the sand, iron rusting?
 
If I can’t see forever
Is that enough
Reason to stop believing
That it could ever be mine for the taking?

American Ink


<!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-469750017 -1073732485 9 0 511 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} -->
Maybe I don’t want tattoos
Maybe the only lasting ink I want
Is the pen
That uncoiled its spring
Gave everything
In a blot
To blur out the pain
The paper cut
On amphibian skin between forefinger and thumb
Maybe I just want that smudge of blood
How it dried the night I was born on the certificate that named me
A mass of pounds and ounces
The whole of me
Measured in inches
That I would ever outgrow the ruler
Expand beyond the stain
Everything everlasting
Cannot be tamed
 
Like weeds
And brambles
I overrun the lawn, the wall
And anything
I can root my body into
 
That my body is ever deemed
Temple
That a sacred space is the first place a bomb is dropped into
How many ways have I disgraced the temple?
Laid to ruin the pews, desecrated the pages of the holy book
 
Yet still
Every morning I wake brand-new



<!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-469750017 -1073732485 9 0 511 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} -->
Like sun through
Stained-glass window
Made red and green and blue
 
I still don’t think I want tattoos
Would rather bear the cross of all my loss
The scars and the stains and the rage
How it shadows my face
 
How it paints the canvas and it’s wholly mine
To strip again with turpentine
To watch as the colors spill passed the borders
Where I fail to stay confined
 
I color outside those lines every time and bleed out passed the edges
Of every cliffside 

A Spell To Love Again

Take one rose quartz and slip it
Under the pillow
lay it next to your ex-lover’s hair
In the morning
Dip your toes in the black pool
You did not have cleaned before winter of this past year
Swim beneath the burning sugar of one too many crème brûlées
And taste the blood under your teeth
From your split cuticles
The bitter chipped pink paint
Crush the clippings of old photographs by pestle in mortar
Crush them like chicken bones to broth in soup
Drink of the past and watch it leave your body from your dancing pores as you sweat
How else would you dispel of pain and perhaps regret?
Take the rock in your shoe and suck on it
Siphon out the mineral taste of it
Bury your acrylic nails in the soil under a full moon
Come high tide you may take to the sea
And the tide will teach you
To love the ocean of yourself
Before the wave catapults you to a ready shore
With open arms
To the warm sand
No a warm hand
No the sun as it wakes your drunk ass up
Naked next to some random man
But the sheets are cool linen across the angry red landscape of skin the razor keeps burning
because God forbid you have stubbly legs
There are no spells to teach you how to love again
There are just tequila nights
And lipstick
And maybe the afternoon turns into evening and you simply say thank you
goodnight
and you think
please kiss me
please call me again this Saturday.

Comet Girl

To see the moon hang in my eye
For the myths of the constellations to bloodspot across my arms and etch their lines
My heart
Still thundering
With the fury of the mountain that longed for the rush of the sea
With the howl of the coyote echoing between
The bones of these hips
That will bear only poems
My God how I want to live
Like the last great asteroid hurtling to obliterate the globe
God grant me the comet all tail flaming gold
Let me die out with cosmic immediacy
That bright vibrant thing
Before the end of humanity.
 

At War With the Immensity

I want to write a poem to the children digging trenches in the sand
 Shovel-ready soldiers prepared against the land
 I want some madman to hold my hand
 And stand
 With me at attention at the battling mouth of the sea
 While the thrashing crashing bashes against me
 I want to write a poem for the children who laugh tirelessly
 Who do not cry when the waves begin retreating
 Who know the belly of the ocean
 Is not a portal to another dimension
 They are safe inside the shells of their pink little bodies
 Like a mollusk sucking, sucking
 I suck salt from my thumb
 My toes become
 Buried like seeds
 And there will be broken shells under my nails for weeks
 The sun will stain freckles across my nose and I will peel at the shoulders
 I want to write a poem to those children before they grow older
 And the waters become something sent to capsize them
 I want them to remember this fight again and again
 The trenches they built with shovel in sand
 And the castles they anointed with their brethren flag
 Despite the barrage of the tide
 Survive.

Alise Versella is a Pushcart-nominated contributing writer for  Rebelle Society whose work has also been published in  Circle Show, COG Magazine,Entropy, Enclave, The Opiate, Penumbra Literary and Art Journal, Ultraviolet Tribe, What Rough Beast,Steam Ticket, and  Elephant Journal, among others. Versella has worked with author Francesca Lia Block and Women’s Spiritual Poetry, whose latest anthology,  Goddess: When She Rules, raised money for the Malala Fund. Kirkus has called her “…[A] boundlessly energetic and promising technician [who] crafts a unique blend of the symbolist and the confessional; a talented, promising newcomer.” She performs at local coffeehouses in Southern New Jersey and has taught poetry workshops at local libraries and schools.

One thought on “God Give Me Forever and Other Poems

  1. Alise Versella’s poem, “God Give Me Favor” seems to strike an interesting chord between what we accept as reality and what we know is only in our minds. Her line “I do not go where I cannot float” can be interpreted in so many ways. “Float” can mean survival, existence, day-to-day living, really any number of things. In other words, Ms. Versella cannot or will not go where she cannot exist. This would truly make a good topic for a classroom discussion. Frank Kowal

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s