Bless this City, Born with a Strong Face

You traveled the rustic winter road:
blue houses with cracked walls and
leaves-covered steps, street sweepers
recalled a life not ruled by dull-eyed
sons who walked cocaine-trades and
shot by mock salute of gangster drive-
by. Down the gutter, dark slapped to
grate in brackish splendor, slithering
soot through the behemoth of down-
town skid-row. Up from smolder, your
eyes tucked wings to magnolia trees
flecked of pale-iced blossoms, eaves
dovetailed to cloudburst, small steps
mingled with silt and drifts of violence.
Catching a fluttering of sky in its down-
ward travel, your fingers clung to the
drier side of the reverse sun, with skin
touched the same ignoble veins for hope,
for the scars that drip-bled afresh, for
what the empties chilled and humanity
dressed, for each steel beam hammered
and property line trashed. So there you
stood, black limbs against skied horizon,
weeping down the current’s jowls, hands
rattled like forks on a fist-kicked table—
witness how blood dried to paper flowers
on skin, afloat and gold from morning rain-
bow where homemade pies baked from
little dream chores, dandelion plums grew
on mossy rocks, remains of your shadow
scurrying into a whole world of hush.


Bella A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Lana Bella is an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 350 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Columbia Journal, Grey Sparrow, Notre Dame Review, Otoliths, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Ilanot Review, and Westwind, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps.