LiLi Fre on Tears
She doesn’t care the man she turned down for
being so self absorbed is now famous.
What she remembers is he brought himself
to tears, thinking if he cried, she’d give in.
He chased her hair and ass and the little
scar above her upper lip from a dog
bite. Because she resisted, he wanted
to win. He even came to spend the night
after she married, said he was passing
through, needed somewhere to stay, just to see
for himself what she’d become, do the kind
of judging he always did everywhere
he went. He’d fall in love, she says, just to
get a script from it. Alone and glad, she has
some friends, is what you might call
‘old,’ though others would name her ‘young.’ I think
I’ve failed at as much as I’ve succeeded, she
says. Sometimes when they cried, I believed them.
To Compete With the Swallows
Everything got lost in the effort of
seeking, which nearly was finding unless
one understands the need to undermine
Watching her die changed him; left
for no other reason than chance, he feels
Joy has a smell as foreign
as laughter in a morgue, not what he pulls
in his wake, or what reaches the room as
he arrives, cool as a slab.
say his vibration’s so low they don’t want
to take his hand, think he’ll drag them down with
him, so concentrated on the reason,
that tight focus supposed to explain the
Meanwhile our neighbors have a son buried
in Memorial Park beneath a rare
tree their friends gave them, gone before they met
him, the purposing for carrying him not
enough to guarantee the end.
to their car with heads down but for dusk,
when they pause to watch the bats emerging
from chimneys to compete with the swallows.
A Box of Shells
After we become
what we never wanted to
be, the only solution is to peel.
In seasons overly wet,
the rivers under our skin flood,
need to be dealt with,
for the drought is always
coming and the ever damp
creates its own problems.
Shrinking after swelling’s the
best time to shed. Be the
snake that both repulses and
makes you afraid. Find two
saplings to pin yourself between
and pull yourself through, two
branches where you can fit
to find the right pressure, or use
other objects to assist you in the scrape,
such as a person and an institution,
two friends or enemies, lovers,
whatever roles you need to slip
among and amid, rejuvenate through
giving up a layer of your outer self.
We had a box of shells we’d classify
and trade in the basement playroom,
one rainy day found a rattler skin
and rattle among the cockles,
limpets, clams, and rock oysters.
Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have appeared widely, most recently in Blue Mountain Review and SoFloPoJo.