Seeking Oracles published in BorderSenses Vol. 21



Donna Snyder

She gazes at the flame between her eyes, holds her breath until she is nothing but heart, the world’s pulse between her ears. She finds black feathers at her doorstep, unsure if the augury is good or ill. Each night she folds her legs and disappears into the sacred fire. She greets the sunrise with a sigh.
Voices echo conversations on eschatology and doom. She hides from them behind guitars’ excruciating sweet. Words repeat themselves perpetually in silence. She sees pictures on the wall where there are none.
She knows little of souls but talks to the dead, visits them in their tombs inside her body. Somewhere outside her head, the smell of palo santo smolders. Somewhere, the sounds of hard wind through metal and water dripping. Floorboards creak and a door closes, of their own accord. She never knows whether her ghosts linger, or if she binds them to her, refusing to let them go.
In her sleep, she wraps herself in sheets like Lazarus. When she wakes, she arises from the grave into a world of dust and blinding sun, the desert heat a shroud. There are no dreams here, just her third eye ablaze. She dresses in the memory of rain. Her hair a burning nimbus, her reflection falls into the caves beneath her eyes.
Everything is bleached as coyote bones in this landscape she wanders, and every living thing has thorns. The path is full of rock, forlorn scat, and sorrow. Everyday she trips and falls.
When the flame fades she returns to now, along with ordinary sight. The flicker of candles glows on the other side of her eyelids. The sound of heartbeat subsides and that of barking dogs and sirens resume. She realizes the music had been inside her head, as had the desert, the thorns, and the talking dead.

poem in first Yellow Chair Review anthology





she seeks truth in a boy’s flesh

he has none

nothing promised

nothing given

nothing subtle nor redemptive

a flame between her eyes

fire at the tip of a spotted nose

burning bush splinters and ash

disconsolate night gives birth to fate


ancient house of cactus and brick

she howls there in the shadows

a starved dog on a hot night

dystopia present tense and here to stay

decay accumulates with every breath

nothing borrowed and nothing new

honest blues buried in the back yard

a stone grave

a brass bowl

an angel carved from a dead tree

her self caught in bad retro porn

The Devil in Miss Jones

no satisfaction to be had

grace and wisdom another myth


the only truth found in a drunk tattoo

ugly monkey

frog beauty

frantic ache

sad tequila spit of rain across her face

language no more her gorgeous cloud

no mermaid symphony

no siren song

no wild sweet echoing in the dusk

gentle oasis gone dry too damned fast

his warm flesh now snow cold soon old

a foul shadow left behind to tantalize

time chained and drunk in a pine cave

universe dancing to night’s song




In 2014, Donna Snyder released two books of poetry, Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press) and I Am South (Virgogray Press). NeoPoiesis Press will publish The Tongue Has Its Secrets in 2016. She coordinates free weekly workshops for the Tumblewords Project, which she founded in 1995.

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