Cheryl A. Rice (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Twice a Best of the Net nominee, Cheryl A. Rice’s most recent publications include Dressing for the Unbearable (Flying Monkey Press), Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press), and Until The Words Came (Post Traumatic Press). She writes a monthly column for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild (, and her blog is at




You float, tethered to wings of ripstop nylon,

orange bird of no consequence.

You fly like a stone, shoot at paper turkeys or

cans stolen from your mother’s toxic larder.

‘Be with me,’ you said in the moment.

Each moment rolled like an urban globe,

the negative, limping space you created.

Bird of Paradise started it all,

promise on our first date of exotic territory

you couldn’t explore alone.

A black feather wages war with the sky,

human drone out of film,

bones broken to prove your worth.

Gravity is the only constant.

Parachutes never open in time

to prevent collision with dry life.

What was it like in that moment you crossed into ether?

Was the Holy Mother on hand to forgive you,

offer a taste of authentic Heaven?




The plane rattles like a Trailways bus

speeding down 209, but the road

is miles below, bumps against

air itself, and if we fall, we fall hard.

I am, as usual, the only one concerned

about these things, my fearful mind

lingering in the exceptions.


This doesn’t stop me from using the restroom,

blue lagoon of waste here in the clouds.

There is a sign above the sink that forbids smoking,

added in the days when everybody smoked

to pass the miles, minimize cravings

for overpriced pretzels and wine.


Another sign warns about putting out cigarettes in the trash,

a brilliant idea in an enclosed, pressurized space,

something else to add to my list of possibilities.

There is also a small ashtray built into the door.

I’m getting mixed signals, but that’s the way

with discount airlines.


Balls of boozy, prefab cocktails cost more

than I would pay in a normal earthbound bar.

My Beloved, who neither drinks nor smokes,

has a vape pen that leaks in his jacket pocket,

air pressure or faulty seal.

Our seats reek of springtime car apples.

I loan him the plastic pouch intended for my earplugs,

plug myself into a downloaded podcast about the Marx Brothers,

pray to a non-existent god that we make it down soon.



Crows Never Speak to Me

My sister has her own personal murder

in her backyard, crows that greet her in the morning

while she soaks up the sun, coffee in hand, decaf.

She watches them ring the empty corral, call to each other.

They don’t speak to me, tho we’re not on bad terms.

I’m only outdoors between house and car,

galumphing down on half-good knees.

Our brief light accommodates all sorts of neighbors—

congregation of pious mice in the holy basement,

ants poised at the windowsill for solstice,

squirrels a tiny thunder across the roof.


Perhaps our cohabitation keeps erratic spirits

in the wood walls where they belong.

My morning habits don’t accommodate intruders.

I embrace solitude, fully loaded coffee lukewarm

halfway thru the morning, interweb updates

bringing war to my desktop, blood thru the screens.

I gage weather thru the skylight, trees still bare

in the stagnant throes of early spring.

Crows leave their shiny offerings at

my sister’s croc-covered feet,

guardian sentinels, absolving obedience.


1 comment :

  1. I like the poetry's ability to tell stories, descriptive and flowing.


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