conch shells & pearls

if i had traded gold link

for conch shells and pearls

i would’ve grown gills

maybe

instead of tentacles

that wrap around

scrawny benches

near the water

– sheila c.

prayers

I think about my grandmothers prayers

under a sunburst ceiling

it was an old blood color

sort of red brown and muddied

I think she wanted my freedom

and god couldn’t see another way

I clearly can’t give life

I’m all dead leaves inside

a manufactured product

of a man who did not hold me

i can’t use your god’s tools

they were never meant for me

– Sheila Cordova

blueness

i know i can’t fit you

in a glass

but boy,

i try

i spend the days measuring you

hanging on your tongue

inhaling your tone

you’re a language

i remember from

another life

you speak to something

lost in me

something I alone

couldn’t find

i drink you slowly

i take you in

like time

my pulse quickens

but my mind softens

underneath you

under you

you are the minute

before sunset

when the day glows

just so

and pink covers

the blinding blueness

that I’ve known

– sheila c

untitled 10.29.17

what heals time?

if time is what heals us? 

Is that a stupid question? 

I look at my watch 

and my arms follow the tick 

and honestly 

I’m actually full of ticks 

I fiddle with my fingers 

and I stroke the keyboard 

like a cat 

I don’t have a pet 

I can’t handle the commitment of long term care 

my fern plant can survive with a glance 

once a  week 

and the paintings only stare back 

if I focus 

i pour my glasses full and heavy 

like the darkness of 1 am 

and the lightness of noon 

I try to find kindness in the cruelty 

of mankind 

and I see it in the innocence of palm 

trees swaying in storms

and I have seen it in the cloud 

that swims past our existence 

sometimes my thighs shake 

and I see god 

but he quickly fades away 

and I wonder if the love we feel is more like 

a thin coating that our eyes can bear 

sort of like the net separating our mortality 

and the ending that defines us 

lord, I hope I find the kindness 

before the net bursts 

and i am silence. 

– sheila cordova 

bones 

the spine trails

i miss the spine trails

your finger up the bones

that made me

every night

I was never an object

but the object

of your affections

your rejections

a sign outside

it burned through the night

i don’t understand how neon

works

if it even does

work

voicemails can’t convey

what I have been

ruminating

for weeks

i can be quick

i can be lucky

i know it,

i know it, babe

we are a Monday

reminiscing  the Sunday

that we lost

– sheila c

the sum 

I am the sum of all my mistakes 

a lingering feeling of regret 

washes over centuries of my bloodlines 

I am the native, the colonist, the savage, 

the imperialist, the immigrant, the slave, 

the forman, the lord, the worker bee, the 

plantation itself 

growing from bloodied weeds.

My children will likely be light skinned and privileged like my great grandfather, James 

Or they will not exist at all 

If I spend one more night teetering at the edges of relief 

Quiet. 

I remember the smell of roasted corn in the evenings 

and tortillas burning my fingers 

I can’t feel the tips of them anymore 

I can’t feel the ravaged happiness of my earth

There is only the confusion,

the conundrum 

What and where and who and how 

And will it ever be more? 

– sheila c. 

saturday in the foyer 

“don’t be this way”

he said. 

I am pumping blood 

but I’m not sure I am alive

i cower under life’s thumb 

more than often than not

and it is nonsense that drives my spirit 

a dream sequence from a movie 

that will never be made 

whatever propelled me forward

for 30 years and some months 

has been exhausted 

or contained 

or both. 

i am humbled by your ability to love

so fully, so wholly 

a person so flawed 

and repaired over a lifetime 

many lifetimes, it seems 

i am humbled 

but not ready 

and i am sure i will regret it 

in time 

– sheila c. 

arches

I just wanted to talk

about the bauhaus

but he had the arch

of my back in mind

he said some saccharine

nonsense,

some bullshit lines

it’s always like lemon juice

squeezed in my eyes

and honestly,

I’d rather fall asleep

with ghostly indents

and a pillow clenched

in my thighs

– sheila cordova

blue lit dream 

I have a blue lit dream of you.

you are cackling bent over the tatters

of a tire

calling me “puddin pop”.

I detest it

and you laugh so hard

your knees buckle.

I shut my mouth tight

and grit my teeth through a smile.

your hands are open

on my thighs

and I rest my head

on the crane of your neck.

we are stranded on the 1-10.

I bore this place in the back

of a diner.

I imagined it the way you imagine

your lungs oxygenating blood

as you’re running,

platelets swelling up

and such.

you have taught me

i can paint a picture with ache,

pulse,

and yearning.

– sheila c.

malaise

there’s no joy in

too much..

in too green

or too lush.

so i tend to rave in the fields

and draw circles in dust,

finding objects to hold

and others to hoard.

knitting blankets from weeds

and proudly trudging in muck.

lord, i couldn’t live without him

but i knew that i should.

i exist now as an echo,

while he wanders in caves

hoping someday

I’ll parrot

all his ill timed

affections

and lovelorn malaise.

– sc