Poetry by Claudia F. Savage

Long Island Railroad from Jamaica, Main Line, 1985


moths may be lost.

In the graffiti’s shadows
loud boys
cover my twelve-year-old mouth
with their urgent desperation.
Even in the corners. Even.
The train shakes our eyelids open.
Window. Car. Car. Window.
Jeans with the knees razored out.
Sneaker tongues slouch
toward the rumble.

my ears do not hear
the raven’s heavy mouth,
light wings hitting stars.
We burrow. Our hearts’ whistle. Sudden arrival.

Somewhere ice is heaving
itself against summer.

Some time I will tell you how
it was to be kissed first by one,
then another.







Into Wind


Only granite could bookend

my star-flung shadow.


That night, I walked the steepest face by moon.


The wind ripped at my eyes, so I shut them

to claim odd names—Tiresias, Inanna.


Consonants off the pebbles of my teeth.


Almost there, a turquoise butterfly’s wing

beneath my foot, locked in snow.


Not now, I thought, but picked it anyway.


In the dark universe of my left palm it thawed. With heat,

it trembled. I’ll call you, beauty.


The wind wouldn’t get everything.








Into Splinters


  Late morning. The same trail for continuity.


A rivulet of sun through my favorite pine—the one tested

    for pygmy owls—two short raps to its desiccated heart.


            My torso harbors something winged. It doesn’t tire.


 I walk my succulent ankles to spears while trees

      shed the extraneous.


            Beg for spring. I plead with winter.

            Smother my brightest leaves.


        Turn me vapor.








Into Snow


Make me scarlet berry on a dormant tree.


No. Better. Make me downed bird pierced by the branch

it called home. Widen the wound and wonder at my heart’s color.


While there, eat my lungs. Lick my spine pale.

Till nothing weights my vertebrae.


I’ll contrast air with air.


Snow is more lovely under night’s wing. Lips

after pressure’s kiss.


If you must. Clear-cut winters’ trees.

Flood the remainder.




Curvature of the Body


We are never truly sated

even when we shed this day       pressing what’s cool

against what’s eager.


Warmth rises up            as sun defies the night.


Ravenous after a swim in the river we fall

on our tuna sandwiches.

Our mossy toes raw silk.


I worry that bellies now full turn hollow.                  Clouds bind light.


You sigh onto the warmest patch of rock

lick my shoulder’s sorrow. Stroke my back as cartographer.

Make me mouth again again.




Originally from Queens, New York, Arab American poet and performer Claudia F. Savage has spent equal years in the wilds of North Carolina and Colorado (where she earned her M.A. in Asian Literature and Women’s Studies) before landing in Portland, OR. As a poet, she thrives on collaboration and experiment and performs and records with the improvising poetry-music duo Thick in the Throat, Honey, as well as working with dancers, other poets, and visual artists. Her poems and writer interviews have been published in Water-Stone Review, The Denver Quarterly, Iron Horse Review, Nimrod, CutBank, clade song, Cordella, Bookslut, Written River, and Late Night Library, among others. Her column, “Leave the Dishes,” about balancing parenting and art-making was a 2015 blog feature onvoicecatcher.com. She is a 2015 Pushcart nominee and the author of the chapbooks: The Last One Eaten: A Maligned Vegetable’s History and the collaborative The Hour of Anjali and teaches privately and as an associate poetry fellow at The Attic. In addition, she co-runs the poetry-music label Thrum Recordings and has been awarded residences and grants from Jentel, Ucross, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Portland’s Regional Arts and Culture Council. Her greatest passion, besides collaboration, is helping other mother-artists to keep making work. Find her at www.claudiafsavage.com.

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