Wheel of Fortune
The inevitable arrives on time,
never when you’re ready.
The figures on your carousel
rise and fall.
Seasons shimmy into years,
wrinkles furrow brows, claw eyes,
Fortune is arbitrary,
a marble ricochets off the roulette wheel.
I am not cause and effect,
that dreaded karma loop.
Your effort and actions
do not concern me
any more than gravity cares for
planets held in orbit.
I happen without you.
You happen in me.
Go up, go down, move with me
or resist. Control is illusion.
From my whirling hub, on spokes of
uncertainty, chaos, chance,
you will spin in cycles
on blurs of silver.
You’ve been told a thousand times:
Castles without foundations fall.
Flesh devoid of spirit is dead.
I let you have at it long enough.
Watched you betray your best friend,
steal his wife.
Watched you squander the inheritance
of your father’s sweat.
Take without permission,
take for granted.
In love with the avatar
you’ve jazzed up for yourself,
you never saw me coming.
I’m the storm
in your 50th year,
the lightning strike
market crash, the affair.
The pandemic, diagnosis,
the knock on the door that
alters your life forever.
I’m the change you didn’t invite
to the party, embrace in bed.
The change necessary, but you refused.
Gave the power of choice to me.
I’m your bad behavior come back to you,
your life in the red.
I’m one decisive stroke to zero.
I am salacious yellow
spilling myself across your table,
your face, after weeklong rain,
winter’s waste, the darkest nights.
I make you squint,
wear shades, but
you look me in the eye
fall into my arms, say,
Yes, yes, yes to my light,
my offering, my joy, to the wonder
of childhood lost, the playground buried,
to happiness in reprise.
I am peach juice silking lips, sunflowers
looking upward, folded wishes reflected
in rippling water, answered.
The better day with or without clouds.
I am love returned, love renewed.
I am the original you
before storms and famine
quakes and floods, nightmares and doubt.
I am you come home
to you as light.
I don’t know what to do
when you submit to her, strip yourself down
to a miscued hard-on, let her ram it straight into your brain.
I don’t know how to warn you against the seduction
or the indolence she induces.
I know she invented black garters and lace,
is an expert at choked-up cleavages.
I know there’s a trick to cracking whips
and coaxing death before it’s time.
How do I tell you, better to suffer
the suffering of muted words?
How can I ask you to imagine finished pages
or convince you Penelope waits
while Circe screws you over?
the Slanted Ceiling
A reflection shimmers like a tear in satin,
a rip in the tapestry of Sunday morning ease.
Magnified molecules and gaseous swirls
of another landscape find us in the folds of our flesh.
Your lava silvers my belly, sliding to indigo sheets
crisp by your making our bed ready for bluer waves.
We carry low in our bowels. And though your sex rests
thigh-cushioned and sated, swollen in a ruddy glow,
and I, drowsy in scents, nestle under your chin,
we are stirred into the lens with sun and water.
The helioscope of sensation ends, hearing last, the echo
of an orgasm, a sigh, we go from fingertips
alone through the portal.
"Wheel of Fortune,” “The Tower,” “The Sun,” “Writer’s Block,” and “High on a Slanted Ceiling.” The first three poems are from an unpublished new collection that includes 22 persona poems written in the imagined voices of the major arcana of the tarot deck. The other two poems are also from this collection but in a separate section.
Catherine Arra is a former high school English and writing teacher. Since leaving the classroom in 2012, her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals online and in print, and in several anthologies. She is the author of Deer Love (Dos Madres Press, 2021), Her Landscape, Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić Einstein, (Finishing Line Press in July, 2020), (Women in Parentheses) (Kelsay Books, 2019), Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and three chapbooks. Arra lives in upstate New York, where she teaches part-time, and facilitates local writing groups. Find her at www.catherinearra.com