Poems

These Days

I break like a pea pod
held over the dishpan of a farmwomanís lap.
My insides fall into the mix of her pan.
Old voices coo around the doorstep.
Their fingers brush the blue of hydrangeas from my eyes,
while shirttails of memory flag the hills.

Rain last night left the trunks damp and the grass bent.
Today, I put beans in one pot and potatoes in the other,
and left them to stew in the expectations of my family.

For days, Iíve awakened on the rim of a dream,
and looked up into the face of a gray wolf.
Her breath is cool to the touch.
The silver hairs of her coat are defined moonlight.

Her eyes say: Ask, what if?
What if I become the sycamore and
pull the layers of winter from my skin?

What if I gather, then break the bottles of memory
to live on the cusp of the world?


Adverse Effect

My mind made the highway hum
of a lost insect as it wanders outside the screen.
My intricate room near the river, was ripe
with fruit sliced for the event.
Spiders clustered around the door to prepare for rain.
The juice of paradise lay inside
the pigment of a flute played to sooth the world.
I began to sort the rags of my dream.

When quick across the mouth, the promise burst
to startle the perfect song from my face.
A shake song clicked inside my head,
as lips went numb and vision became a collage.
My fingers dropped their rings to the floor.

The voice of the young doctor reeled in my ear.
How many meds did you take? How many meds?
And all I could think was stroke.
The stroke has finally arrived.
Stroke, like a swimmer.
Stroke, to the surface of this body.

Printed in Water-Stone Review
Finalist for Jane Kenyon Poetry Award 2009


Nothingness (9/11)

ďNot everything assumes a name. Some things lead beyond words.Ē
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The forest sings aloud in winter,
a host to sleep of the unnamed beautiful.
Musk and leaf compact under foot,
black with moist ages and ages of eyes.

I am chilled clean,
to the slick bone of the present.
A laugh turns to scent crush on my sleeve.
Weariness runs down inside the crayon of my flesh.

Watch us, as what is ours is taken.
Our moans are ravenous. They flail the stars.
Shadows uncelebrated erupt.
We rob one to one.
Our hearts unscrewed peer from loot-smeared eyes.

The joy of ignorance burns each word.
They tumble out and away from our lips,
into the knowledge of the world singing:
I want to hear and not take to heart the song

Published, Cincinnati Artists and Writers for a Better World, 2005


Nancy Fletcher Cassellís poems were most recently published online in the 2010 summer issue of Still: The Journal. She was a finalist for the 2009 Water-Stone Review, Jane Kenyon Poetry Award and her work was published in their fall issue. She has received a Legacies Award for Creative Writing from the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Her work was published in Poems and Drawings on Peace and Justice by Greater Cincinnati Artists and she has received an Honorable Mention in Poetry from the Kentucky Women Writerís Conference. Cassellís visual work has received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Southern Arts Federation /NEA and Art Matters.