Poetry by Rivka Clifton

“Sedona” by Emily Rankin / eerankinart.com

When Rush Hour Begins

it’s best to drink               Topo Chico from a glass

bottle    like a predator   alone    in my car
I know              where       everyone’s eyes are

on the road       I am on               the road
with everyone vying                    to get      ahead


When The Morning Flushes To Perfect Fullness

The strangling vine flowers
through the tree leaves—

its blooms like faces.
Dead faces, when strangled,

leave nothing divine
like a tree that flowers
when no flowers unfurl

from other trees like it.
No branch without flowers,

the vine wore many faces
while strangling

the tree. The tree dropped
its leaves. The tree, vined
by its strangler, flowered dead 

faces. The flowers faced out
until the flowering ended.



Not from the opening, the dark, but from the body. 

Like a worm, the arm. To rend a worm is to make two worms. 

The arm flexed under the body. The body came through the dark—
           an arm and an arm and an arm. 

The arms reached through the dark. 

Like a worm, the arm. The body squirmed to right itself. Lifting an
           arm, the body came through the dark. 

Whosoever rends the body is the arm. 

Whosever flees the body is the worm. The worm dieth not. 

The dark not from the opening, but from the body. 

To rend a worm is to make a body. 

The body crept through the opening like a worm hooked in a mouth. 

The opening closeth not. The worm crept within the body’s dark.

Whosoever flees the arm is the worm. 

A worm in the mouth rends the body. 

Like a worm, the mouth. Like a mouth, the body’s opening.

Rivka Clifton is the author of the chapbooks MOT and Agape (from Osmanthus Press). They have work in: Pleiades, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Colorado Review, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. They are an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.