after Jean Valentine
It will not unclench your jaw
or uncross your legs.
It will not loose the sparrow
back to Lisbon, this poem
will not moan Ma’s blues
against your ribs, this poem
will spazz and tick and swallow
sadness, thick in the pit
of stomach. This poem
will not wash down saudade
with bitters, will not draw love
from death’s vein. This poem
will not move your mouth
from the stable, will not feed you
cheese or olives or cake.
Stop trying to cry, dearest,
this poem won’t offer a tissue.
This poem is grief
on its hind legs.
Ode to the Deer on the Side of the Road as America
Your ears still twitched two minutes after the crash,
after someone who thought himself superior to you
sped maniacally down a one way in the dark.
How could he have known you’d be there?
He who sees himself center of the universe,
how could he know you belong to this earth too,
that this space is yours as much as it is his, or mine,
and really, weren’t you here first? Isn’t this documented
religiously, anthropologically, historically?
By the time we got to you, it was too late;
despite the small pulse from your body, I knew
death had come with its heavy boots and bag.
Blood poured from your mouth, a tiny creek
trickling back to its source, underground, where
nothing forgotten is forbidden. Haplessly,
we called the police, as if they would be of any use.
The officer shrugged and said he’d call for your removal,
insisted you never had a chance given where you wandered.
As if the fir and field behind you weren’t home.
As if your freedom wasn’t as precarious as his.
Death is So Everywhere and So Entire
with these days, these hours
strung together like crumbs
on the backs of ants, murmured
fados in the ears of Alfama,
the labyrinth you never visited
or cared for; you got enough city
in Newark, maze of iron and river.
There are so many murals here now
you’d hardly recognize it, intricate
portraits of people who, like us,
used to take the number 1 bus
to buy comforters at ABC,
fresh hens at Shorty’s, then devour
bakery sandwich cookies after
with the hunger of beasts. Art
all along McCarter: memorials
in bright blues and heavy oranges,
white dresses and electric animalia,
beautiful ghosts and graffitied gods
stretching for a mile and a half
of this city that was always home
when you were on earth and I wonder
how many times we walked across
that highway never knowing
we were getting closer to death?
How many faces it takes to remind us.
Marina Carreira (she/her) is a queer Luso-American writer and multimedia artist from Newark, NJ. She is the author of Save the Bathwater (Get Fresh Books, 2018) and I Sing to That Bird Knowing It Won’t Sing Back (Finishing Line Press, 2017). As a visual artist, she has exhibited her work at Morris Museum, ArtFront Galleries, West Orange Arts Council, and Monmouth University Center for the Arts.