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new poetry by Lana Bella

Lana Bella


by Lana Bella


The elderly man was ready to pull those
odd-shaped chairs and tables
in across the shingle floor away from the rain,
when light and water burst through
the bamboo slats,
even the air lost its grip on the weight of
this cold gray day,

he looked up to the dying sliver of the sun
as a tail end of ducks’ V formation
took off into the liquid landscape,
in this mist,
he reached through the hours
to the front of an old dream,
back in the Vietnam war,
where the visible and invisible
covered the ears and eyes and crippled sins
with bullets and cries and vain foresight,

leaning toward the scuttle of rain,
he saw an upside-down soldier being strung
with ropes from his feet, bleeding,
tongue lay sprawl under an August storm,
infinity sat hollow inside his skull orbits,
only birds of prey passed over,
their hunger hung heavy
like ireful sickles in the hands of masked gorillas,
madness greased into their mirth,
and sorrow stained the sky
a magnificent black,

along with the few remaining villagers,
he traipsed the bare-bones rice paddies
under a September rain,
when the bird family came back,
circling above a peasant woman
rocking a child whose body

was mangled, and soaked through,
like a rancid fruit,
he stood rooted on the bed of water-logged soil,
head bent to the wind-swept pour,
listening for the sounds
of soft footsteps of his companions
leaving crunches away from that earthly grave,

stranded here now with the shame of history,
he touched the aged yellow clippings of war,
cautious to the thousand teardrops
collided from the sky
against the ones flooding his insides to fullness,
as always,
he was caught between
an ever tenuous self-conceived fever
that summoned the ghosts of dead ancestors
from four decades past,
and the red pulps of war-torn maelstrom
that swam as wisps of accordion,
limbic, and deep in the underbelly
of his bloodstream,

if he could only know how to
soothe the lacerated language and moans
from bloody shapes,
in his sleep and wake,
for he feared the deciphering
of hands when they were cupped in prayers,
and the long gulps of air
that unceasingly stretched into howls,
turning up the kerosene lamp by the window bay,
he tossed a carafe of hot rice wine
down the tobacco-tempered throat,
chilled, sloshed and arthritic
upon a wool settee,
while his ghosts milled the earth in flaming felts,
spinning together again
the past, present, and future,
with tearing red threads.





you are a rotten tangerine hanging on
the bough of my tree, half in waiting
to splinter off, the other half already
bruised through from maturity and
hungry worms—

I watch westerly wind leap into your
gaping rind, sunlight snakes beneath
your insides like the way the ocean rushes
toward caves and dunes, leaving just
enough mystique in its wake—

seeing your whole spotted and incised,
I arch my limbs past the shingled wall
then over the ground to catch your fall,
you look at me with sad orange eyes still
wet of juice before hurling earthward in
scattering core, seeds and open pith—

someday I’ll look back on this moment
and wish I’d known how to follow you
home through black, for this is you and
me born of sun, sugar and dirt, before
you stumble and fall, before I lose all my
leaves to despair—





Lana BellaA Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is the author of two chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016) and Adagio (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press). She has had her poetry and fiction featured in over 200 journals including Columbia Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Third Wednesday, among others. She resides in the U.S. and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom to two far-too-clever frolicsome imps.