Cynthia Nitz Ris


urging foot after foot.
The door is buzzed open.

He pleads with you.

Purple crescent moons
wax under his eyes—
even the dental floss
locked away.

You sit, open your hands,

ask him
to fill them like rain,
like before,

ask him to imagine a dream
that begins like this:
a boy escapes from a castle.

He says:
they’re all crazy in here.
He says:
I’ve got to get out.

You hold your hands together.
You imagine flying apart.

Seventeen years ago locusts spilled their songs
across every summer day.  My son would
strip abandoned shells from tree barks
and toss the papery casts into the air
as if jubilation meant this shower.
Locusts trill now as the cat talks back,
hunching at the window sill.  TV reporters
push mics toward witnesses at Baghdad’s
latest bombing while I open letters filmed with dust
and watch as the death toll rises in a blink of the cat’s eye.

Cynthia Nitz Ris

Cynthia Nitz Ris teaches English at University of Cincinnati and works as a freelance writer and editor.  She was co-founder and editor of the local literary journal The Blue Writer.  Her most recent poems appeared in Snakeskin and Identity Theory.



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