Wednesday 12 January 2022

Five Superb Poems by Catherine Arra


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.



The Tower


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.



The Sun


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.



Writer’s Block


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?



High on 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


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