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About this poet

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011). She lives in Santa Monica, California.

Oceanside, CA

Balancing on crutches in the shallows
near her mother, a girl missing her right lower leg
swings her body and falls, laughing.
Behind them, her father and brother play catch.
Up the beach, the incoming tide nibbles
a sleeping woman, another beer is opened.
A young veteran walks by with a high and tight
buzz cut and Semper Fi shoulder tattoo, his right leg
a prosthesis to mid-thigh. He approaches
the family, removes the prosthesis, and joins
the girl in the water. They lift shorn legs high
and smack them down. No one talks about the war.

Copyright © 2010 by Marie-Elizabeth Mali. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2010 by Marie-Elizabeth Mali. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011). She lives in Santa Monica, California.

by this poet

poem

Pulling out of Union Square station, the subway
sounds the first three notes of There's a place for us,
somewhere a place for us. A woman sits on me, shoves
her dim planet-face at mine and blames me
for not moving. My face half numb—
post-root canal. I want to incinerate

poem
I'd lean close, my ear
to her whisper and roar,
her tongue scattered
with stars.
 
She'd belt her brassy voice
over the waves' backbeat.
No one sings better than her.
 
Would she ever bite
the inside of her cheek?
 
Would she yell at the moon
to quit tugging at her hem,
or would she whistle, drop
her blue dress