Originally from Texas, Shannon Lise spent twelve years in Turkey and her writing is infused with the layered historico-religious consciousness of the Black Sea region and informed by Middle Eastern mythology and mysticism. Her poetry has won several awards and recent work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Sunlight Press, Ink in Thirds, Eunoia Review and Red Eft Review. Holding degrees in psychology, philosophy and literature, she is interested in exploring how authentic interdisciplinary dialogue transforms contemporary cultural discourse. She also writes epic fantasy realism (Keeper of Nimrah, 2014). She currently lives in Québec.
when those broken bedroom doors laid you waste
a scream years expired choking out in your throat –
you woke to the smell of your sweat on my skin,
dissolved on my lips.
how you’d shiver on the phone, all your words
corroding the scaffolding trembling between us –
you were so sure we’d crash through the cracks of your mind,
but I never hung up.
Go back to the driving salt in your nose
surf gathered for the kill, the smash of your reckless body –
recall how it felt, finding the sand.
you already know I’m not going to cry –
but I do.
ON RECONCILING ONESELF TO BEING HANGED IN WARTIME
Hold onto your sorrow – perennial fungus
coating the rotten underside of your mind –
harvest it and mold it into an unsung sonnet,
the bodily shape of you, gift-wrapped in white
paper and tied up with ribbons, with scraps
of scissor-curled colors keeping you
from a thirteen-storey crash, holding you
in a hangman’s noose, spastic corpse suspended
in soot and smog above the crawling streets
while nobody ever looks up and oh God how long?
But it is better than splashed blood
on the cobbles and the blasphemous bursting
of forsaken flesh, better than screams
of faceless crowds coming and going and forever
remaining the same, collectively conserving
their screams for worthier causes, like the attack
just before dawn.
THREE DIMENSIONAL MORNING
Side by side, we watch the road unravel
beaded street lights going out to greet the dawn
relaxing their grip on the patched night
like a girl undressed wiping makeup away
like a long sigh quivered in the lingering dark
the day of the Annunciation
Or like a half drowned woman
numbly gripping the cages of her lovers fingers
flickering stiff lashes at last to understand
she can let go now
because he is already dead.
THE WORLD, OF COURSE, TOOK A SEAT
“This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—“
~William Shakespeare, Henry V
but we few, we
few who happy faced expanding edges of our own
souls’ falling, beyond which no hurtling
star ever dared
who slept three hundred lives of old men who forget
in the prison of our own evolving brains
and yet were not forgotten
who kissed through frozen fairy glass the fingers
of our long dead lovers, freshly remembered
in flow of unsterilized needles
who took our crowns for convoy and walked three
days with bound hands to find a phthalo flower
we well knew wasn’t there
who saw the sky fade into sand and lived three
years on crickets, honeycomb and our
own cheap manhoods
who three times stripped our sleeves and slit our
scars and bled ourselves into an ICU to glimpse
once more a certain eyelash curve
who raided our own sacred sanctuary of dreams
to discover the well at the world’s end and
who had never intended to worship –
it was enough
to know that children we'd never have
would have boasted to their friends
it was enough
to know our mortgaged lives, familiar in the mouth
as household names, were not for rent.
it was enough
to walk the ridge of an unfinishing dune
and cast no shadow.
We stood as one, respectfully
requested the only holiday worth having,
to celebrate the feast of Crispin’s day, and were
of course denied. We showed ourselves out.
DAY IN THE LIFE
My body is an animal
that feeds on motion –
pulse of unborn dawn in my veins
echo of flying bleachers underfoot
throb of concrete
beneath the rain-dark shimmer of blackbird wings
and the dance swelling
through naked heels pressed in unwithered grass
through shivering tension of globed dew
balancing the light in me
the light in you.
Maybe one day
I will reel in my horizon and drape it
over my shoulders
stop straining at the edges
searching patterns of the stars.
Last night I dreamed Jesus Christ
came through the white front door with all the cheap gold,
kissed me on the mouth.
Maybe one day I will send my body back
through needles of sunrise spiking
runaway threads of unshowered hair before my eyes.
Maybe one day I will wish I had saved them,
webbed strands of burnished bronze wrapped
in silk and willed to you at my death
but all our life is beyond photographs.
Left knee for the woman, right knee for God –
should I talk about the night I cried until I threw up?
One day I come home to the missing trees;
there was so much I could have told you.
One day I will meet a stranger with an Eastern European accent
who will wish he knew why he was hurt so much
and I will not know what to say.
I buy apple juice once a year
and take three months to drink it.