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Inner Ocean Fantasy 2011
25” x25"
by John Babcock

Photo by Linda Babcock

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Lisa Allen Ortiz


All night I dreamed of coyotes.
The cat went missing before bed
and I slept fretful for her delicate bones
listening for a crunch, a rustle, a cracking.

In one dream, a coyote entered the house
and I yelled to the children to hide. I stood
by the dog and held a kitchen knife
to the coyote’s wet jaws.

In another dream, the coyotes
whispered and planned and circled
the house.  I woke and thought of rabbits,
their ink eyes.  I have daughters and I cannot

forgive myself for this.
I walked the house in moonlight
and saw swept with coldness all
that will be lost:

pencils, open books,
a glass left out, its ghost of milk.
Outside in the damp meadow,
clicks, whistles, foot-falls.

The door of the forest
creaks on its blind hinge.
Can I save this place?
My daughters wake–– 

taller than I remember,
all bones, keen hunger, eyes.  Warm
with sleep, they reach behind their heads
to tie their hair to tails.


Some people wake up
and cannot remember
their own names. They forget
husbands, children, homes.

Think how foolish we are— who wake up
and remember!
We should spend every day forgetting,
leaving behind what surely will be taken.

In Florida there were once
a people called Malhado
who spoke Capoque and Han.
When one Malhado visited another

the custom was to weep
for one half hour before speaking.
Then the one who was visited
would give the visitor

everything he owned.
Those people are gone now.
Look at us here—our flesh,
our sun-bleached skin, our wants.

I do weep when I see you. 
I know you will leave.  At night
when we are naked
I am sad and watch the darkness

stretch its chilled wings.
You have a lean and pale body.
Oh, love, the moon is dead too—
but sticks around.

Microfossil Exhibit

What’s the difference
between this stuff and sand?
Here, the collector said and handed

the curator a battered box of slides:
the Infrakingdom Rhizaria,
the Kingdom Protozoa,

an exhibit of orbs and puffs,
half-moons, gritty lines,
squinty burrs in constellations.

I also shed foolishness,
ghost prints in caves, drafts, lettered
margins, pinched and crumpled bits.

A universe made of marks,
and in the still museum
such small wanting

to be handled, seen and noted:
frozen luster, what’s left of cells.

Poems by Lisa Allen Ortiz have appeared in Best New Poets 2013, Zyzyyva, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Literary Review.  She is the recipient of two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes and the author of two chapbooks: Turns Out and Self Portrait as a Clock.  In addition to writing, she also tends two nearly-grown daughters, one very kind husband, an extremely small dog and several beds of vegetables.

Karen Ackland
Paul Skenazy

Wilma Marcus Chandler
Dane Cervine
Dion Farquhar
Lisa Allen Ortiz

John Babcock

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