Poetry by Carol Matos

In the Asteroid Belt
Between spread fingers
we are bits of flesh, no more.

Like a rock left over
from the beginning,

you never come close to earth.
Not to mess

with switchblades,
I shake loose my sweat,

fix a frequency,
a steady hum with no collisions.

Grooming myself before you,
I’m the site of pyramids,

the pleasure of air in your lungs.
Sitting down next to you,

my bones slip without color—
a cloud transferring

to the ionosphere
or a quiet sound at the edge of space.

From the bone of his pelvis, you know
you brought this on yourself. Your tongue

against his neck tastes like a penny.
Never letting you touch him in daylight,

he yawns, talking about his mother.
You listen and say, sometimes she’s like tight fabric

and other times like clothes strewn about.
You’re trying to restore his heart,

but with a knife in hand. He measures
the heft of your words— Use plain English!

Only a demented moron speaks in riddles.
Now, the aggregate of all his insults tightens

your throat and hissing like the dark
of Norway’s winter, you say, I’m sick

of your ridicule, tired of swallowing rage.
Even though his face looks handsome,

you slip out of bed. Feeling the coolness
of marble on bare feet, you walk

towards the bathroom and look in the mirror.
There you see the flickering of blue-white glaciers

breaking and pushing out to sea.
Sitting on the toilet, you design

an altered escape and decide, without cowering,
to gut the fish from the farmer’s market.

Iconic Fossils
3.2 million years ago
we stood up straight

our divergent thumbs
embedded in our bodies.

You and I are unlike
like a dog’s sense of smell

or the musing of a trapeze artist.
Only scholars strutting out words

a one-note serenade to me—
is this encoded in your genes?

Closing my eyes, I see you
a cage for my mind.

When I speak, our history
tumbles out, a valley

of exasperated hands in the air.
I mutter, even lizards tell us

the structure of our brains is the same.
In fraught seconds, I’m drawn to you.

Slush underfoot, we slide to each other
relearning names of geologic eras

and in rigid delight
we feel the unmistakable tug

of tender gifts flipping in our veins.
Our future persists until one day

we’re fragments of bone like those
lying in wait in the badlands of Ethiopia.

Hide & Seek
From the door behind the sky
slivers of light cross your tiny fingertips,

and holding on, your mouth dips down,
swallowing from a cup—a pocket of holy water.

Like a white-tailed rabbit, you zigzag and burrow.
I follow your trail, the scent of morning dreams

sliding into awake. Toe-to-heel I catch you
tucking us into a mirror. We play at rarified heights,

snowy waves splash us with storied lace. Savoring
the world, we connect windows to galaxies,

grow trees wild with monkeys on your wall.
Reciting how the itsy bitsy spider went up

the water spout, I’m wrapped in rhyme,
cutting holes in time, spun with fading sparks—

I want to slow it down
like the light-years between stars.

The sun tilts and hazes the room. You tug
at my skirt, signaling “up” with your arms.

Your mouth to my cheek—there’s something
elemental in the way you do bye-bye.

Epoch, a Division of Time
What was doesn’t work.
My longing has closed,
not dead in its track

but like a fusion of gender
or the stuff stars shed in space.
Hegel declared every idea

contains its opposite—
that life is wondrous
yet we smell the sulfur preserved

deep within earth’s crust.
Not to get stuck I move forth
drawn to undigested fragments

not speeding past pool halls
on the back of a bike
but on my pen:

“our greatest right
is to choose how we think.”
My breath lands on a child

a tiny prophet proclaiming “start”
so I wander into an ancient atmosphere
rendered speechless

with generational tugging
with pulsing solar waves
with this child running to me.

It’s something fierce this striving
late in life to become an image
of yourself with more thirst.

Carol Matos’s first collection of poems, The Hush Before the Animals Attack , was published by Main Street Rag in 2013. My poetry has appeared in 34th Parallel, The Comstock Review, ROOM, The Prose-Poem Project, RHINO, and The Chattahoochee Review. She has been a semifinalist for the Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize, and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. Formerly a professional photographer with exhibitions in New York City and Europe, she now serves as Director of Administration at Manhattan School of Music.

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