Barbara Griest-Devora

Something about the sea doesn’t want us,
or we’d all be throwing ourselves. Instead,
we chose the pink stucco motel on stilts
because it knows how to prepare for disaster.

The door to the room is a turnstile.
The marble moon sparkles like dashboard
light in the worst part of the dream. It’s impossible
to stay human, but the fairytale requires it,

and so we fly to the ending. I had left something,
maybe a ring, maybe another option, on the fillet
deck where the best cutting is done. At some point
we must gather our belongings, move inside.

Or maybe this is still honeymoon. The room
inside is sure to be warm, if only
the threshold. Nothing about the ocean
blames us. But then nothing invites us in.

Our Own Twin Poles

The crossing of Something Ocean was hard
with all the criminals on board. One wanted
to hold us up, but we had no money. We waved
our hands in the air, frightened pirate ships away.

Another commandeered our boat, but left us in control
of the helm. An armada of fools with swords and velvet
slashed wedding gowns from the sails. The eunuch kept
watch from the crow’s nest, carved hearts in the mast.

When the captain paid us in fake bills, there was talk
of mutiny until we noticed our lovers’ pictures painted
on each note. Someone else threw white rice
from the plank—a sly fellow in tuxedo and leggings.

What were we to do when the deck boys came
bringing rum and skull cakes? And all above board?
oh, the villainy! Or else the beauty of pirates!
We let the rapist do what he wished.

Language Acquisition and Circus Acts: The Flame Swallower, The Knife Thrower, and The Monkey

Everyone wants to know how Big Flame

got his start, what models there were

for pyromania, but no one ever asks

Knife Thrower how he let fly the first

blade, since the act of throwing and catching

small daggers comes naturally to us all. 

The monkey has been kept purposefully

mute: caged primates taught sign language

always sign the same first words:  let me out.

Barbara Griest-Devora teaches English and writing at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, where she and her husband also own a photography business. Her poems have been published in journals such as The Texas Observer, Sycamore Review, Rhino, Spoon River Poetry Review, Borderlands, ONTHEBUS, and many others. Co-winner of the 2002 Pecan Grove National Chapbook competition, her first collection, Superheroes and Other Ways to Spend a Night, was published in 2003.