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Pick a Card

Of what corruption
did the Queen
whisper in your ear?

That she never
ages, concealed
in the deepest

That between
the stacks, flat

sheets of whistling
air move like spine-
flattened cats

under a door? These
were your instructions:
Write your number

on this crumpled
paper and kick it
forward toward

the horizon. Try
to remember
your number.

Twist your neck
in the direction
of every peripheral

flash. What did
the Queen just tuck
into her bellows?

Look at all my small
mistakes, she blinks.
What rises before you

while you’re turned
to the side? Your number.
Your number is up.


A Portrait

Sketch me, she said
breathlessly. It was
too dark for dark
shadows, her rope
arms bending
to straighten her hair.

The water stopped
rushing to examine
a rock. Or the rock
insisted its existence
be acknowledged,
and the water bent

to mirror its features.
He tilted her chin
to obscure
the asymmetrical,
unbeautiful nature
of her eyes.

The cherub legs
on the concrete moon
garden bench were aglow,
though the sweet
alyssum sought asylum
in its own folds,

shrinking away
from the touch,
not of the moon,
but of the Sylvania
Roadster high pressure
sodium vapor street lamp

that sensed it was time.
She grabbed at the book
to see, and a lead comet
streaked her face
where he hadn’t finished
shading in her bones.  


Carolyn Guinzio’s third book, Spoke & Dark (Red Hen, 2012) was chosen by Alice Quinn as winner of the To The Lighthouse/A Room Of Her Own Prize. She is also the author of West Pullman, winner of the 2004 Bordighera Poetry Prize, and Quarry (Parlor Press, 2008). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, The Cortland Review, Thrush, and other journals, and has appeared widely, including in Colorado Review, Blackbird, New American Writing, Puerto Del Sol, and Smartish Pace. She is the editor of a project called Yew: A Journal of Innovative Writing & Images By Women. See more at http://www.carolynguinzio.tumblr.com.