Nuclear family.

silhouette of building during golden house photo

Her face grew hot
and her stomach ate itself
as they watched the fire cloud
shoot into the sky.

“Is this really happening?”
her toddler laughs.

No one hears the music now,
and someone knocked over
their beer—
“turn up the fucking news Rachel!”
but even the coiffed bobble heads
don’t know what to say.

What a show!
What a marvelous show,
the airport is a crater
and a million vapor souls
billow out
to make grease stains of it all.

Grab the child and put on your shoes
“where are your shoes?”
grab the keys
“what about the cat?”
raining fire is melting this party
and the roof top is leaking onto the street.

Keep breathing
even if it burns—
hold on to the child
hold on to his hand
get in the car
and drive away from the screams.

© Nancy Botta, 2018


Not yet strangers.

green trees under the cloudy sky

On a strange day
the sun went down at noon
and in a strange way
I knew we were doomed.

We’re in a strange place
where birds sing out of tune
and in this strange embrace
a rift between us bloomed.

© Nancy Botta, 2018


Morning commute; an impression.

commuter commuting late lost

The 5:22 a.m. train
into the bowels
of aluminum city
hurtles us soft creatures
of cul-de-sacs and oak trees
through a brownfield corridor,
past the blurry pocks
of yellow yards and
rusted afterthoughts.

© Nancy Botta, 2018


Family bonding.

low angle view of man standing at night

You’ve lost your son
so you’ve earned this wound,
like salt in the eye
it stings like hell.

What a rush.

Sleepwalking through grief,
you can’t help but hope
that the sticky skag chaos
will roll your red eyes back.

You denied feeling much,
feasting till dawn-
with tar in the veins
you face plant to the floor.

This backwards bequeath
of a son’s skin-popped curse-
You bear that crude warmth
and fade out,
on your knees.

© Nancy Botta, 2018


The calling.

lone tree

When I’m in our bed
suffocating under
limbs, feathers
I sweat and dream
of coating my flesh
with a balm of
and squirming free
of your heavy hand
to chase glimpses and strands
of a hag’s crackled white hair
bent, wild
like horrified birch trees.

© Nancy Botta, 2018



abstract painting

Half thoughts and stupid words
phrases like ‘cackle of hens’
and ‘chugging out anger in drop C’
bounce around saying
clever! clever!

Maybe if I

up the enjambment,
or bre
ak the lines
(a riff raff
homage to E.E.
will emerge)

failing that,
call it a
retrospective exploration of

no one knows what that means;
“we’re so moved by your effervescent ideas”
(looks like I pulled another fast one)

© Nancy Botta, 2018


That time you fell asleep at 4 P.M.

blur coffee cold cup

You find yourself face down on a polyester couch
eyeglasses in hand and barely awake
you hear the toddler toddling 3 feet away
and hope they have the presence of mind
to not kill themselves or toddle into the radiator
that shrieks like a banshee whenever it gives off heat.

You’ve never felt this tired before
and you wonder if this is what a slow death feels like
an unrelenting surrender to the warm exhale of sleep
or a yawning inhale of the vast unknown;
but death is such a morbid contemplation
not at all appropriate for a stolen cat nap
amidst toddling toddlers and shrieking radiators
so you turn back and swim away from the catacomb
away from an invitation to the dreamless deep.

You find yourself awake, alive (and just a little bit sweaty)
time is immaterial as you grasp around for your glasses;
Is the toddler still toddling? Check
Is the radiator still shrieking? Check
Has the toddler managed to avoid
toddling into the radiator and kick start
all sorts of shrieking? Check and check.

So you b r e a t h e
and blink in the world
of toddling toddlers
shrieking radiators
and try to put away that coaxing memory
of that fathomless, bottomless, endless sleep.

© Nancy Botta, 2018