City of Shadow
New year moon’s disappearance
—Jungian shadow pervasive—
tattooed inner-arm of a “clawing dragon”
he never slew and we are pouring through
under sun-drenched stain glass palettes’
intense noiseless colors
even poppy pod greens
& floral orange-reds
shine unapologetic beauty.
Eyes of saints and martyrs stare.
Your forty-year-old body, asleep now;
milky satin sheets drip icy,
until the last Amen.
Tombstones lean, push toward us—
Atropos’s unavoidable scissors.
Limb-needled-pines, each a sundial
cast sun-slow-shadow, marking days
and years, circling time, except
sunless days of hopelessness or nights
when drugged shadow
blends into inescapable darkness.
Wind’s toppling waves beat wings
flapping clothes, stinging cold.
Shoes’ pulsations parade frozen
field, quiet dead listening
in underground chambers.
Deep abyss knocking from below, up against
unheeded demons rushing, roaring, up toward
injected liquid of another spoon-cooked life.
Updraft of untold prophecies,
high above a mother’s heartbeat echoes
aching sobs—reverently lift
nevermore on raven wing.
and his Irish glitzy, overbearing sham-rock wife
two children: boy and girl, a rich man’s family
nightshift’s textile Spinner, whose pink and black eyes
froze and flashed as an albino rat’s in the dumpster,
talked to himself like a crack addict’s scratch.
Walked through dense forest of decaying thoughts.
Overworked body—worn as a foot path.
Spent life filling and emptying shovelfuls of money
into mobbed up, unpayable debts. In way over his ginger head,
so deeply dug as a mole, he couldn’t star nose himself out of.
Adults around me tried to justify, rationalize, but—Does anyone
really know the inner turning of another’s Rolette wheel mind?
No wonder one night with a gang of rattlesnakes fanging
venomous fear as nightmare—
He leapt from the edge of air.
Driven body crashed Cadillac; mind’s shattered windshield;
headlights smashed sockets. Pocketed coins rolled marbles
across sliding face of Delaware River’s ice.
Long-lined fall from Walt Whitman’s bridge.
Now, only reflectors sparkle red suicidal warning
through cloud-dropped mist. Washed up along the Camden
side, under winter willow’s unraveled skeins, unspun dreams.
Mildred and Lucy Mae
Utterly soil-quiet, apple seed eyes where light easily passes
the way sunshine leaves golden wake image on a soul.
Long whisper-braid crawls rattle-snake
down ladder-length spine.
Drawn lines rush waterfall jawline.
Nile River flows basket of unforgetfulness.
Rib-bones curve sides of erosion’s bank.
Wounded feather-arms. Gypsy moth tears.
Infant shoes set bronze beside ceramic bible: Lord’s Prayer,
legible lines. Tongue sealed inside boulder-stopped cave.
Voice box—never pried open since
Lucy Mae’s baby-casket closed.
The empty space within
grows out of disappearance.
About the Author
Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The Handheld Mirror of the Mind (Kelsay Press, 2018) and Images of Being; Light’s Battered Edge; and Night Sweat. She has been published in many magazines and is poetry editor at North of Oxford, an online literary journal. http://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com