Cheryl A. Rice


I will die ugly as my mother,
her Donna Reed can-do pearls
fallen as tears, as ethnic variations
on her soiled pastel bib.
I will die hopeless as my father,
pale cataract stars haloing his eyes, my eyes,
moss of decades filtering out good,
only allowing black forest breaks
to enter his juniper brain.

This is how I protect them in the meantime:
I wear plenty of eye shadow when I visit,
not metallic sticks of grape or parsley
I favored in 7th grade,
lashes defined by weight and volume.
I cloud the blue cast under the whites,
bags another genetic inheritance
enhanced by short nights and long sighs.
I dress to disguise pots of sorrow
I accumulate across the architecture
of my soft bones, scenarios without finale.
I discuss my art a little,
send them my books when they are
hungry for resolution,
when they want proof we’re related.

I suspect the contents always confirm this,
Irish gloom and Polish heat
combined into a broth of clouds,
occasional sun disturbing that comfort,
familial landscape of enterprise thwarted,
middle-class dreams dissolved to
puddles of swiss-holed attack.
The flavor remains, generations after.
I do what I can to shut the door,
knock from the outside,
air my grievances on the side of caution,
understanding rules we were all
issued meant nothing outside
the womb of the universe.


Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Rye Whiskey Review, Up The River, and Misfit Magazine, among others. Recent chapbooks include Until the Words Came (2019: Post Traumatic Press), co-authored with Guy Reed, and Love’s Compass (2019: Kung Fu Treachery Press). Her blog is at: Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.