koi ponds and cathedrals

He said he wanted to be like a koi pond:
an aquatic garden fashioned by hand, not indigenous to the landscape,
the Zen and feng shui of their placement with one another carefully controlled,
peaceful.  Water lilies and koi, cattails and carp, hornwart, apple snails:
flora and fauna which feed off the waters, still like our lips at rest.  There is blanket weed
beneath, growing hot and fast, clogging the flow of the rain garden—
there is no serenity in what we build in the backyard and keep there, quietly and alone.

He said she wants to be a cathedral, awe-inspiring from every angle and faith:
stained glass, shooting out colored shadows of the Lord Christ and His Apostles. the sun and atmosphere, reverent to the tricks of prisms.
There are no apple snails at prayer, no water lilies or hornwart offered up in tithings.
Incense and hushed rosaries feed off the peace of the faithful, Byzantine mosaics two-dimensioned and
grand like limbs entwined in nightsheets.
There is the serenity only of stone in the belltower: my midnight Hosannas, sung sweetly to fall upon God’s ears

You are wrong, she slapped out, her kiss one last time to his cheek, his mouth, a nibble like the mouth of a carp, kissing down the cinders of sunlight, the pathways down her cheeks marked slick like those of apple snails.
I want to be the ocean, the salt and the sand, weighing down your clothes and freeing you as you dive in.  Swim here and forget feng shui, float with the seaweed and me, the stained glass of waves and surf
moving and different and alive with your breaststrokes.
I want to be the ocean, she said, not waiting to see if he followed her into the tidepool.

This poem first appeared in : Emerge Literary Journal, Summer 2012

Eggs of Heliopolis


I march in the black parade
a member of the buried-them-too-early club,
the my-husband-left-me statistic.
Darwin’s Dead End—other girls got babies.
I got cervical tumors.
I’ve got a sash and tiara I don’t want,
won titles that no one coveted
and my body is a pirate’s map of scars.

I dug my friends from the ground
and hung them as constellations.
I’m not barren because I can still create.
The men that left I didn’t want anyway.

I came through the fire, emerged in cinders and ash.

My scars are precious jewelry,
numbering the things that couldn’t kill me.
Allie Marini Batts

That Kind of Poor


We are that kind of poor
that never really realizes how poor we are

only that the bank account hovers more treacherously close to 0
in the days leading up to payday

sometimes it occurs to us that
maybe not everybody has the lights turned off
because they’re over a month behind and can never time
that three-paycheck month just right to finally catch up

or that not everyone considers more than $50 for groceries
or clips
that never feel like they actually help
all that much

or feels grateful that $11 an hour with two college degrees
is the best pay they’ve ever gotten
so what if the insurance is too expensive to afford
it’s available, at least

making too much money to get food stamps
and too little to do anything but juggle the bills and pray
working longer hours and more odd jobs than we ever expected
but never thinking it’s all that strange because

everyone we know
is right here with us


Allie Marini Batts