Phantom Bastard by Judith Borenin
I walk out into the deadpan dawn.
Within a circlet of white a stain of
pale moon floats. Murmmerations
of brittle leaves swept up by wind
gusts scatter in paprika tapestries
across the dry pavement. Bare tree
limbs shiver and snap like penciled
stick figures in a sketch bending
back to break free of a page. A
ragged wind wraps itself around me
like an invisible caul. I walk encased
in the fog of my own breath along the
slack back of the shore as curdled
waves slip the lips of a soured sea.
Birth month. The first frost. I’m a
bad accident who fled a tragic scene.
A rootless bastard without blood
borne history. I walk along the white
furrowed shore where the nameless
dead roll out from the sea’s frigid
lips and lie with open eyes and faces
exposed in bags of mist readied to be
recognized while I search the phantom
rows for one who can identify me.
Self-Soothing by Judith Borenin
Under a slate and lavender
sky from budless branches
reaching for spring sparrows
tumble. They parse bitter
bits from pavement cracks.
The world is a bell jar of gull
shrieks. I light a cigarette. 7
more seven seconds subtracted
from my life. I laugh feeling
around for a lump in my throat.
My right ear has been draining
into my brain with accompanying
pain for years now. I imagine
my head swarming with ravenous
worms working their way inside
hidden canals. I press down on my
right temple to make sure it still
hurts. Whatever my imagination
lacks pain fills in. It stultifies my
soul. Knowing that only the present
counts I take a hit from my cigarette.
Its ashes swirl round me like shards
of sky. Smiling I savor the soothing
scent of lavender and despair.
Judith, an orphan at birth, born in the snows of October in Anchorage, Alaska, survived the Great Alaska Quake of ’64 and the Sisters of Mercy's instruction, at ten years-old, inside a convent somewhere in Western Australia.
She currently lives in the Victorian town of Port Townsend, Washington under the eaves of its cracking facades.
She has been published in various online and print journals including; The Raven Chronicles, The Night Heron Barks, Sandpiper, Synchronized Chaos, The POETiCA Review, The Floating Bridge Press Review among others. Her chapbook, The Evidence & The Evermore, was published by Sara Ethel Lefsyk in 2019.