Lisa Ciccarello: We are not hostages so much as we have been tasked to hold up this wall forever & I’ll explain everything while we move.

We are not hostages so much
as we have been tasked to
hold up this wall forever

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We want for humor to be our general
but our last general betrayed us

He is our enemy whose face is the clay of the dead
Whose eye is the eye of loss
Whose eye if it is placed in the tower will mean all is lost

Every wall is a bridge
What kept us apart connected us
It was an empty love
It was a curse we placed on the fire of our own bodies

A curse is a wall made of the burning dead
I find my body in the wall of the past
The wall is an altar & an army
I find my hand in the falling dust

A curse is a dagger that is placed inside you when you hear it

This dagger was my husband & the body of my love
This dagger was a daughter I raised to be a soldier

Why did the army of the wall not remain
the wall our enemy could not cross?
They went out to fight him one by one

My heart was an army & an altar
I could bring my husband back in body but not in flesh
I could bring my husband back in body
at the cost of my own body

I could not hope to live forever but I lived forever
I lived to guard what I could not keep him from

To stand guard at the tomb of your enemy
is the definition of eternity

I lived until I pushed the blade through my body to possess the blade

This was not the revenge I had dreamed of

I tried to crawl across the sand
The sand became a jade comb
The sand became my weeping daughter
The sand became a clay body
I folded my body inside

The sand burned until I did not understand what was the fire
& what was my own curse

I forgot to tell you the eternal was gone
You were waiting for me to stay a dragon
You were waiting for me to be younger than you

I went on without you
though I could pretend I didn’t

I’ll explain everything
while we move.

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I was scarce a daughter
before I became a warrior
to hunt down a warrior
clothed in a jacket of gold.

There was a village & a warrior
& his army was a road gold with flame above the sound of horses’ hooves

& they gold the village black

& all that survived was one child
lowered into the well by her mother, shot down
by the warrior himself
amid an army of arrows.

That’s what they tell me, but I was crying all night long.

I wept & the burning homes covered my cry.

I pinned my girlhood behind me
to pierce him through the heart
with this jade arrow
I wear in my braid.

I was a baby in a well & a whole village burned.

There was no one left who knew my mother
or I was from her.
No one to see the arrow or the killer.

There was a baby wailing in a well & a town full of ashes.
Someone raised me up & put a jade arrow in my hair.

Now her revenge is always on me as an ornament.


ART: Zachary Tate Porter, Jeannie Vanasco

FICTION: Katya Apekina, John Henry Fleming, Lacy Arnett, Claire Harlan Orsi, Chantel Tattoli

NONFICTION: Emily Carr, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Johanna Stoberock, Steve Wasserman

POETRY: Janelle Adsit, Ryan Bender-Murphy, Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni, Dan Chelotti, Lisa Ciccarello, Christopher DeWeese, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Tyler Gobble, Fanny Howe, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Nick Lantz, Matthew Lippman, Aditi Machado, Alice Miller, Marc Paltrineri, Christopher Rey Pérez, Allan Peterson, Jessica Poli, Lynne Potts, Dan Rosenberg, M. C. Rush, Ed Skoog, Cindy St. John, Russel Swensen, Emily Toder, Laurie Saurborn Young

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