Stress Positions by Risa Denenberg

531px-Vrksasana

In yoga, when limbs tremble and bend,
I rest in child’s pose and dwell on stress
positions pressed on prisoners. My slight
discomfort weighed against their agony.

In tree pose, I’m a tent post in a muddy
bivouac. I confine my limbs in eagle pose,
as limbless orphans concoct makeshift sports.
In crow pose, I think of stateless refugees

who occupy camps where small caged birds
are the preferred pets. Lying in corpse pose
I wonder how many graves are lost at sea.
My sadness useless as a prayer.

 

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including “Whirlwind @ Lesbos” (Headmistress Press, 2016) and “slight faith” (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Photograph by Judith.

Of Countless Deaths by Risa Denenberg

The_Last_Message_Willian Hatherell Of Countless Deaths Risa Denenberg

Of countless deaths today,
I witnessed two. To witness
any death is to feel desperately
alive. To discern that one’s own

body lingers at the border between
here and not here. To experience
the shockwave of foreboding. To slip
into a moment of groundless grace.

And if you ask, as some do, why
I chose this vocation, this sitting
at the bedsides of the dying, I will
say, because I can. What else sustains

the private love I have for witness
is mystery, even to myself.

 

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016) and slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Painting, The Last Message, by William Hatherell. 

Before World by Risa Denenberg

salinger_profile_2_by_frogstar_23-d8jxrrj.png

Now the earth was formless and void,
and darkness was over the surface of the deep. –Genesis 1:2

Birds don’t sing.
Jazz don’t swing.
Bees don’t hive.
Men don’t jive.

Life swims before it flies.
Life crawls before it leaps.

Before houses, men don’t build prisons.
Before fences, coyotes don’t kill chickens.
And then earth is partitioned.

Trees teach birds to perch.
Birds teach frogs to jump.
Frogs teach girls to skip rope.
Girls teach words to sing.

Songs sing before sin.
Sins teach women to pray.
And then prayers teach hate.

Before prayer,
Women aren’t spoils of war.
Black men don’t swing from trees.
Landmines don’t amputate boys.
Kids don’t drown in the sea.

alan_kurdi_lifeless_body 2 colored

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016) and slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Painting, The Salinger Profile, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.