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Poems and Collage by Kayla Schwab


i’m looking back     bent

like a parenthesis

watching shadows slow time

                               pages turning

i play with pen

and ink

feel loops curve 

like loose paths 

in my soft shoulders.


this is what i write. this is what i



i see the invisible marks

i see a sweaty palm

spit ink tracks

                   splats and smudges

i see the scratching and scraping

slide along the paper

i see the bending and coiling

                   i feel the words shake

pressed tight against the page


my muscles tense               and i exhale

       i’m here                       and i’m writing

eliptical motion

after Jericho Brown


the day i realized i was outgrowing my past

i misplaced (displaced) my breath


            my breath a jagged shoreline lifting

            grains of sand from tiny graves


sand deposits made for footprints

a canvas for disappearing ink


            history disappears before it’s rewritten

            tumbling in the gullet of a wave


a new wave lands but still retreats

bends at forces unseen


            awareness of the unseen forces

            hardens me against soft sand


but the roughest tides render the softest sands

and as i lie in it on my back


            i push back the past like parting clouds

            the sun filling the spaces that remain

pacing to and fro between time zones wearing

watches on leather straps      wrapping our wrists and taking

our pulse         constricting and driving 

our compulsions         the choreography

of cartography            maps of the imagination reveal

the earth’s limits         we fill 


our homes with clocks            wooden ones roaring everywhere 

we go we are surrounded 

            by hands reaching       spinning on axes 

that are fixed  we feel the nervous tick

pulsing through our hair         when did we lose our faith

in the stars?    or the planets that align every so often and not

by accident but the timing feels conventionally wrong         i wish


i could tell the stars my secrets but 

i know that they’ll be dead

by the time my voice reaches 

the ghosts of their flames

Kayla Schwab is a poet and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been featured in the zine Distance Yearning, and she is an active member of Sweet Action Poetry Collective. Kayla is also a registered yoga instructor, and she teaches classes online. You can follow her on Instagram @80smomchic or on Twitter @KaylaAnnSchwab.

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