Fall 2016, Volume 21

Poetry by Lois Roma-Deeley

Answer Me

said God to the man
driving home in the early morning light.
It’s been a long night of mopping and cleaning,
wheelchairs and gurneys, living and dying
during his 12-hour shift at the hospital.
The orderly rubs his eyes,
hoping the Honda Civic in front of him
will drive faster, shift lanes, turn the corner,
disappear altogether.
He might get lucky.
The Man Upstairs bashes together a few clouds
wanting to get the man’s attention.
It’s an old trick but it just might work.
But the man only stifles a few yawns,
rolls down the window of his truck,
breathes in the damp air with the exhaust.
It’s been raining all night.
Now the Big Guy makes all the traffic lights turn red.
Cars skid to a stop.
Now all the man can think of is how the day will unfold:
How and when to pay which bill sitting in a neat pile on the kitchen table?
Is his wife still faithful? What should he do
about the odd-shaped mole growing on his shoulder?

Still Afraid

Much later, when my eye stopped twitching and
my speech once again resembled a respectable woman

whose life story was written with predictable twists and turns—
it was then we decided to travel South—though

I was still afraid my New York tongue
and immigrant ways would, again, betray us.

Before we left, I listened, hard, to the open mouth
of the sky above my head, to the rain which beat
itself into the ground

like Mother’s bony fingers
tapping on the kitchen table, a code

only she could teach us.




BIO: Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger, northSight and High Notes—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. She has published in numerous anthologies, including Villanelles (Pocket Poets Series) and Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity. Further, her work has been featured in in numerous literary journals including, Spillway, The Transnational, Windhover, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Bellingham Review, Water~Stone, and many others. She is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant.