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Patricia Caspers

Portrait of God as Mission Fig & Female Fig Wasp: a Dialogue

Portrait of God as the Most Kissed Woman in the World

Ars Poetica with Ghosts

Driving Highway 80 with My Husband After Contemplating Suicide and Later Reading Pema Chödrön

Portrait of God as Mission Fig & Female Fig Wasp: a Dialogue

Fat-bellied men                                                                                  
in pointy hats                         

                                                We are starful
                                                in our plentitude

batwing scrotums                                                                   
sexy when ripe

                                    beckoned by an echo of scent
                                    feverfish in flight, pollen-light                                                                            

squeeze us into any box                                                                     
we take its shape

                                                            disinterested in sting
                                                            we burrow                                                                                   

turn us on our side                                                                             
we’re platypusian                   

                                    into the sweet and meaty heart
                                    that sustains you                                                        

one father tried                                                                                   
to namesake us

                                                                        the journey a severing                                                                                                                   we sacrifice our wings

palmed us over                                                                                   
along with a pox

                                               eschew escape                                                                        
                                               pirouette the ever-after

but we are thousands                                                                          
floral mycelium                     

                                                                                  hands pluck the tender fruit   

we blossom inside ourselves                                                            
invite death, melt all danger  
                                                            sun warm and sticky
                                                            fear-pressed, your lips

on our wet, pink tongues                                                                    our work, awaiting joy 



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Portrait of God as the Most Kissed Woman in the World

Workmen pulled your body from that green turn of river,
and push or jump, no one could say, and no one
claimed you until the death doctor anointed your face with oil
applied thin and threaded layers of plaster, the scent of wet dust
rising into the morgue. The plaster became the shape of your
cheekbones, your brow, the secret on your lips.
Soon, wax filled the place where your face had been.

We gave you names: Unknown Woman, Drowned Woman, Woman of Sorrows, Woman of Many Fears, Woman Who Was Pushed or Woman Who Didn’t Want to Die, but Didn’t Want to Live This Life, Woman Who Was Only a Girl, Resusci Annie.  

Forgive us; we hung your face on our walls.
Forgive the toymaker who tinkered you into doll shape,
who gave you a collapsible chest and a kissable mouth.
Forgive our cracked palms on your torso, our foul breath in your lungs.
Forgive us as you perpetually drown, and we can never save
ourselves enough, and we have forgotten that you always had a name. 

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Ars Poetica with Ghosts

How many times did we discuss our pomes
while sipping coffee, corner table, nights
near windows overlooking Merritt’s lights,
the winter lake itself like poetry.

Prosciutto, pasta, mascarpone, red wine,
our supper, always courses. Bellies full
before the words he’d say, his apron snug
on button-down. Then, panettone, tea,

and tales of war, of Nazis. Questions held
him hostage still; the trek to Italy.
Il bel paese didn’t wait, but she—
his bella signorina—later, wife—was there.

We write, and what is poetry if not
the paper boats of children, far from shore,
a little wind-torn, turning turtle—lost
among the currents, Oakland’s tidal slough.

Renato’s out there now, ghost gondolier
of dark—imagine—setting our boats ablaze.

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Driving Highway 80 with My Husband After Contemplating Suicide and Later Reading Pema Chödrön

Three big rigs surround us, packed tight and full with bee boxes, 
and through the mesh meant to protect them I watch as some bees hold to their hives, 
and others cling to truck metal, and many more are caught by the wind,
flung against windshields where their pollen-laden bodies smack 
and spatter gold across the glass. 
My keeper husband says the pollinators tossed beyond
the rushing river of vehicles will be lost without a colony to call them home,
and I try, Pema, to let the sorrow blow through me, knowing 
even the bees that arrive at the central valley orchards 
will likely be contaminated and die, too, but not before dusting the blossoms
that allow the tree to fruit with almond kernels and grow 
to fatten my favorite chocolate bars. I confess
I do turn away then, toward the actual river, brown and slow, the low,
photogenic iron bridge in the distance, and the unhoused folks
camped along the banks, and why not me, I've wondered so often, 
the gusts blowing hard against the hives stacked high inside my ribs,
each piece of me—a nameless something that cannot withstand the gales 
of sorrow—is dragged from the house my heart has made and wanders
lost along the water's edge where there’s a roofless shelter of blue sky
and tarps strung from branch to bare January branch, and where someone
is living a life right there on the other side. 

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Patricia Caspers is an award-winning columnist, journalist, and poet. Caspers’ work has been published widely, and in 2017 California Newspapers Association named her the best columnist and best education reporter in the state. Caspers won the Nimrod-Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize Poetry and has published two full-length collections: Some Flawed Magic (Kelsay Books, 2021) and In the Belly of the Albatross (Glass Lyre Press, 2015). She is the founding editor-in-chief of West Trestle Review and hosts the monthly literary reading series and open mic, Silver Tongue Saturdays in Auburn, California. Caspers graduated from Mills College with an MFA in creative writing. She is a Unitarian Universalist.

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