Poetry from Patrick DeCarlo

White Hills Clinic

Within the flakey crust of her mother’s apologetic quiche
fingery swirls of spinach lapped around red peppers, confetti

from a woman whose phantasmal presence is felt
only in refrigerators and Clorox-clean bathrooms.

“She told me to bring this,” my girlfriend said.
Teething her bottom lip, she added, “For our vacation.”

So, we placed a piece of her mother within an airtight con-
tainer and drove 150 miles north to St. Augustine and planned on eating

the woman the second we met the lips of the shoreline,
lips I wish we needed because we were tired of each others,

because we were 40 year-olds saving a marriage with a second
honeymoon, with underwear and condoms shedding like snakeskin.

But that’s not what led us to finger the arteries of a map,
finding a place we’d never want to see again, a place where

Mr. Griffith’s broken sprinkler head spewed no water, a place
where overgrown trees didn’t case Cedar Way like a tunnel,

a place with no symbols to remind us of ridding ourselves
of something familiar, an accident that could grow like it had

inside our mothers nine months too long. As I sat in the motel
and peeled back the lid of the container, the sucking sound of air

escaping made me wonder if that’s what it could sound like,
the voice of her mother, now inside my stomach, no longer in hers.


Smoke rising through floorboards on the last night.

Curled finger between the doorjamb: cock-tease

of terror to come. Drip before drought— remain

nameless as subway songs before the sparks of brakes run.


Egypt rises along the horizon,

the most civilized empire, all delta greenery

purple tributaries and sand dunes magic majesty

wretched like blood soaked slave owners.


And now, a prayer for all suffering with depression:


May your Egypt be shallow;

May your exodus be deep;

Let us sleep after it is done—


And wake!



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