Four Poems| A. K. Genova

I No Longer Wear Coats

Someone yanked my coat from my chair. The chair rolled out from under my bottom.  I bottomed.  My coccyx crunched. I’ve never conceded to so much as a serape since.  Once coats calmed me like bluebirds or Tony Bennet, the coat of his tongue. A bounty of belts laced my waist. Black velvet collars accented my copper coif. Coat hoods harbored me from rain, wind, and fling of the quotidian.  Framed my face with fur like a pink-cheeked Russian princess, or Queen Elizabeth in a collar. I no longer wear coats.  Although, I remember wearing. Filling pockets like frosted cupcakes with glittering coins, keychains. Magic numbers.  How frivolous, how jacketed I lived. Ignorant of cold. Now, coatless, the coated flick their sleeves and laughter on the TV without thinking.  I once belonged—to linings and buttons. When I donated my cache of button-downs and zippers, the children of the universe entered my mind. Their protected pulses, corpuscles uncreased. Coats simply ceased. Rain-proofed or wrinkled as penises. I once glazed myself in London Fogs and Gerrys. Pencilled them over the rounds of my shoulders, slept on them, ate them for breakfast. Trench, pea, or duffle?  Silver quarters slipped through my pocket holes. Fingers giggled inside my hem. Time for new skin? I could shoplift a shell of a lobster or crab.  No, I’ve let loose of sleeves, the fallacy of faux or leather. Shelter from weather. My mind shifts from shields to shifts. Coats of arms no longer protect, insulate. I no longer wear coats.





Today, song sparrows sing higher pitches.

So many whole notes—

Have I been shot?

Nightingales in Wuhan warble more loudly on weekends.

Wounds blossom like roses.

Today, her mind flits to the faces of lovers.

Mother’s hair, teased like a nest atop her head.

Sister’s black eyes.

Mama! she cries over and over.


Today, the embarrassment of a hole in her side.

Fingers spread like a wing to hide

her blood, spewing. The floor slickens.

Something stings. Not as bad as she imagined.


The urban noise, misjudgments of juncos.


Yesterday, Not even a boyfriend.

Did she sing too much at night?

No husband. No baby.

Pillow of her mother’s breast.


Today, Robin Redbreast. Sing while you can.

Her throat thickens with stems, leaves. Roses.

I love you mama. I love you….

Only there is no song. No breath.


Hairpin on the dresser.


During this sickness sparrows sing in a softer volume.



From Paris to Truck Town

We walk our lowing neighborhood of dead-end streets. Minutes tick by as we amble up a hill-thrust of Highway 3 and beyond the carrion of car dealers: West Hills Autoplex, Advantage Nissan. Truck Town. I wish we’d never returned from Paris, strolling down the Champ-Elysée’s glittering with impatiens, fountains, Napoleon’s Arc de Triumph. Petit fours. My hand in yours. A goddess gown floated in a boutique window, that Dalida, with her forgotten voice, might have flaunted. Emerald and gold chiffon on a headless mannequin. Its feet vanishing into neon yellow and green pebbles. I could have worn that dress, I said. You agreed and smiled like Yves Montand, though his furrowed brow only exists in murmurs. Even if Marilyn Monroe had the good taste to fall in love with him. That spring in the “City of Love” on the Avenue of Dead Heroes, elm trees were budding. Cafés and shops, buzzing. I love you more now than I did then. But that walk—sang. On our block, rhododendrons black cherry the detritus of our age: sprung mattresses, discarded hangers. Old chairs. Piles of splintered lumber. When our heads are shrouded, will we kiss through the linen?



All my life has led me to this black, orange, and red rug—  

My table is small. But the memory of ten thousand dinners and dishes and good-natured laughter—engulfs me. My table spread for me, by me, with red placemats and penny-red tulips in an orange vase. For the blood in my wrists and breasts and lips. Where most of all, my daughters once sat ripening into their beauty.  Autumn moves me out to my balcony. To sky, spread like the mind of a blue god. Where my terracotta pots cup uprooted hen and chicks in their green.  And bulbous pumpkins hold me, and orange mums move in the veins of my pulsing. When I was a girl, blood coursed blue through my veins. Turned red with heat only when it hit the air. Like when I stumbled and scraped my knees. Like fervent prayers in the mouths of flushed pilgrims. I embrace the season’s end. My loneliness in conversation with exposed branches. I need the companionship of wolf spiders in the corners or crows overhead with their black and yellow caws. Even the kinship of wind-shot and yellow leaves, twisted on the battlefield between seasons. Trees struck like glittering matches. Evergreens, solemn as sentinels. The circular carpet of foliage under a maple. The sistership of my blood piping around in my veins since I was born in a yellow house with a solitary apple tree in its backyard. I need no more than the solidarity of shrubs licked at their roots by black death under fists of green. They whispered to me long ago. Now, they speak to me about long-fallen spring. The gravity of green on hills: pine, beryl, and juniper.   The rising blood of my mother and father circulating for all ages and no time at all. I’m so glad for red.


Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash



A. K. Genova, lives in Lynnwood, WA.  She received her M.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Ball State University. A reader for Mud Season Review, she has published a book of prose poems entitled, Flavor Box. Her poems have appeared in 3Elements, The River Styx, Homestead Review, and many others. Several ekphrastic poems have appeared in galleries beside representative artwork. Recently, her poem, A Life in YellowRedux, was chosen for a juried show. Her memoir, “Moving,” recently appeared in Stonecrop. She won second place in the James Nash Contest, for her poem, “Confluence.”






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