Poetry

Just when you think you know where you are headed, a poem will turn you around and place you firmly in a surprising direction. Liane’s writing is lean yet intensely vivid with a focus on concrete images. Dread, joy and the beautifully ordinary coexist within her poems.

in which robins appear

trust me.

I was born this way:

half woman / half weed /

feet in the ground

& a mouthful of mud.


believe me

when I tell you

I crawled from my

seedmother & shouted

halleluja let there be

green. she fed me dung

& straw & I was thankful.


but today it snows.

through one brown

eye I saw a winter robin

whinny past. it’s true:

some believe the dead

are near when robins appear.


verily, snow falls &

falls & robins are near.




Acknowledgement: 'in which robins appear' first appeared in Hobart After Dark 5/11/2022


oh honey, the starry night

my bliss is not the treacle of the hive nor the sap

of the tree but the spin of the earth on a silver

night. there is a spinning in my head when the road

is dark and my step is light and the lights in the houses

give away the good neighbors with all their spinning plates

and if a window were open you could hear the ringing

of their forks and the singing of their knives

if they opened

the door just a crack their cat would steal into the night

with a slice of yellow light. I spin and they spin and the earth

spins and the cat spins and when I look up into the sugar-flecked

sky it begins to melt and oh my god it tastes like we are all

the same dust.



Acknowledgement: 'oh honey, the starry night' first appeared in Hobart After Dark 5/11/2022


family prayer to the patron saint of un

fast backward starry night

to time before fat slap


uncry weep girl

part hand from face

ungasp sharp breath


father

undrink

unyell

unslur word slurry

unmud loud mouth

father

unsing drink

undrink again


girl unclasp your momma’s hand

go greet your daddy at the door

where dust motes float in slice of final

evening sun

and then undrink amen.


Acknowledgement: 'family prayer to the patron saint of un' first appeared in Hobart After Dark 5/11/2022


self-portrait as your worry stone

I taste of salt. salt of the ocean and salt of your palm. you move your thumb

back and forth / back and forth across my back / across my back I carry the worry

of water that rolled me back and forth against flanks of sand and a bed of stones

so that I may carry yours. I know your blistered soul. I see where you go when you turn

out your light. I know your keys / your leather wallet / loose coins / the many man-things

on your nightstand. I am volcanic — your flare, your flash. when you wake, you summon

my heat and spring creeps closer. daphne blooms. a phoebe sings her name. the shadow

of a wasp outside your window treads across the sunlit blinds, builds its paper house.


Acknowledgement: self-portrait as your worry stone appeared first on Roi Fainéant Literary Press, March 6, 2022.

unbeliever, what is your north star?

I calibrate the ticking of my pulse to the chime of the earth ringing
like a bell on winter nights. you believe in holy but I believe in haloed
moons that foretell a glaze of new snow. O, the unbearable beauty
of it all. the surprise of a hexagon is enough to bring me to my knees.
my own mother ebbs, confides that when she goes to sleep she wonders
if she will wake in the morning. I know I can't keep her pressed between
the pages of a book like one of spring's first violets. and I, now too an eggless
woman, consider each sequential folding and unfolding of that moon,
set my breath to its sensible division of time and pray: ichi-go, ichi-e.


Acknowledgement: 'unbeliever, what is your north star' first appeared in Emerge Literary Journal:2022, Issue 21, February 13, 2021.


with clouds like this no wonder

my viewpoint is compromised

by falling temperatures

and unbending earth.


but go ahead.

try to believe me

when I tell you stars fell

from sullen skies

and lit the garden beds

where earthworms rest

between the sleeping roots.


ah, you think —

I present a metaphor,

I must mean snow for sure.

but no, I mean

I am a willful liar.


I mean,

they were diamonds.


Acknowledgement: 'with clouds like this no wonder' first appeared in The Poets' Touchstone (print) Vol. 63 #2 Winter 2021/22


my mother is killing her african violets

my mother molts,

sheds her witch-skin,

grinds her three good

teeth and her magic

runs for the hills.


through cataract-fog she overwaters another plant.


one summer, while tending the garden,

she threw a horn worm into the fire pit.

I watched its skin split and hiss like a tomato

thrown into boiling water.


its moth-ghost waits,

calls her name.


Acknowledgement: 'my mother is killing her african violets' first appeared

in The Hallowzine Issue 2 October 2021

what to expect when your sister is cremated

while you are cleaning out her drawers

(because her daughter can’t), she burns.

you make two piles: the wearable

and the unwantable. this is what it boils

down to — goodwill and garbage bags.


they say that solids turn to gas

when heated high enough: her eyes /

her skin / her hair / the fat / but bone

remains and gets ground down

and given back. you read the facts.


you know what happens to the holy vessel

that rode shotgun in the car you drove

to where the phone poles end — and when

you thought you were lost for good they appear

again, sturdy messengers along earthbound

roads where unheard voices hum.


Acknowledgement: 'what to expect when your sister is cremated' first appeared in Sidereal Magazine, Issue Eight, Aug. 2021


how to know a mulberry leaf

place a leaf in the hollow of your hand.

close your eyes and burn the shape to memory.

grow smaller, smaller yet — even more small

until you are cradled in the cleft of its cordate form.


stand up. follow the mid-rib highway.

turn left or right. it matters not —

all roads lead. close your eyes and burn

the curve of each lobe to memory.


walk north, then south. in then out

to the tip of each point. follow each serration

until you are dizzy and can no longer stand.


note the scent of rainfall on very dry ground.

remember where you are. close your eyes

and burn the toothed margin to memory.


lie face down and stare into the tender leaf.

separate the layers with your eyes

and burn the green to memory.


If you are feeling overwhelmed it’s ok. cry.


memento morus,

remember mulberry.


Acknowledgement: 'How to Know a Mulberry Leaf' first appeared in Sidereal Magazine, Issue Eight, Aug. 2021



upon reading 1,000 birds fly into skyscrapers

before I sensed

the untold secrets


of birds and before I knew

the histories of quick warm hearts


and before I renewed

my own heart’s history


of an easy autumn morning,

there it was in black and white:


an apparition of blood and feathers.


I read the news and chew

the words like day-old bread,

ponder the shadows cast by crumbs.


birds — their souls remain a mystery

but this I know: if not for glass

houses and a mirage of clouds.


stay, I whisper toward

dark firs where chickadees


still sleep. stay with me.

together we’ll wait for a different sky.


Acknowledgement: 'upon reading 1,000 birds fly into skyscrapers'

first appeared in The Banyan Review, Issue 6, Summer 2021



what is a dog, anyway


you ask about my grief —

well here it is.


my heart: a ball of yarn,

neat bundle, smoothly wound

and in good order until


the earth tilts / my heart rolls /

my world unwinds / becomes

a tangle of salt and dirt,

a muddle of earth and bones.


what is a dog, anyway, you ask.

I tell you: she was my woolen heart.


Acknowledgement: 'what is a dog, anyway' first appeared

in The Banyan Review, Issue 6, Summer 2021




full tilt

and so the days become less golden. yielding to the weight of their august fruit, blackberry canes lean acutely angled. the yellow cat’s thirsty bones cry from under the forsythia and the waning moon nods in agreement: soon. but right now there are no vacancies in this carnival of symmetries and divine proportions. there is no room for rain.


no room for five-petaled buttercups. no room for honeybees. no room for dragons, real or imagined. no room for ants, no house of mirrors. heavy air leaves no room for breath, yet I sing: glory be! heaven and earth are full! leave this earth to its seasonal tilt, its public revelry, its processions and masquerades. heaven and earth are full, I say to you.


Acknowledgement: 'full tilt' first appeared in The Penmen Review, February 2020