Poetry by Sheila Black

"Potential Portal" by Jared Dawson / jareddouglasdawson.com



Naked April

I was thinking of myth versus history and that sour coffee we drank in the little patio-thing beside the parking lot where a woman had made a kind of nest of plastic bags she had shredded almost neatly. I was thinking how they called those bags “New Mexico roses” for how they clustered on the fences of barbed wire where the shrikes hung the shriveled mice they caught in their razored claws, eviscerated with their razor beaks. I was thinking of Bob Dylan singing about taking the badges off, and what badges I might want abruptly removed. The badge of you like a mouse head, blue and bled, or a bleeding-heart flower with a tongue inside like the head of Orpheus, who would not stop singing despite the evisceration of the body, despite the no body, despite the running, running water. I was thinking of Persephone, and her face in that statue is Ashmolean Museum, how like a girl behind any drug store counter she appears expectant, also horrified. Who knew it would come to this? I was thinking of your hard sad mind and that I did not ever look once pretty enough, but I was pretty inside. I was thinking what it would be after I died, and how like a God I would watch on high— only memory, winds unreeling, plastic bags, so much with no road that ends, ribbons, and Orpheus again, and what is it, tell me, to sing as we did?

Fear Food

She will make nothing from something, the bread in her fingers, the six carrot slices, she will work them like a magician until they are almost air, until the light that is outside her is all she is— until she is like the moon that has no light of her own. Owl moon, savage moon, the hunter who drives herself until she is arrow. And the stories that speak of this—crumbs for the birds, and then small white stones. And the sugar house, with the witch inside it, and the oven, who asks her only if she would like to look inside, just a moment.



Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent. A co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, she divides her time between San Antonio, Texas and Washington, DC, where she works at AWP.