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Three Poems

Early Morning, San Bernardino, 1969

Even then I knew:
my father was waiting
for a message

and we were supposed
to be witnesses.
He could not stop his mind’s

wild associations,
but the sky kept its silence,
tar-black and star-smeared.

My brother whimpered,
pinned against the swing set
while Daddy pointed at the heavens,

his do you see it do you see it
more and more frantic,
but we didn’t see it

wanted our beds
shrank from him
as he trembled, holding

his head with both hands
and the unruly stars
burned out in a desert morning.


I Am No Falconress

“My mother would be a falconress.”
– Robert Duncan

He was born
with long sharp nails
and when I tried to trim them
blood welled up
and the nurses pursed
their lips.

He hears
the little bells
when he turns
his head.

A young raptor,
my boy:
the intense eye,
the slash from
flesh to bone.
It takes my breath
away, his need
for flight.

My mind follows him
into the blue sky
where I am not
allowed to go.

I am no
falconress, yet
the hood and tether
are there
all the same
and I feel
the claws
at my wrist.


In the Fairytale Forest

In this green and innocent place
swans and deer are not what
they appear to be. The woods

are full of brothers, mirrors,
talking frogs and dwarves.
Trees tangle above, filter

the light, intimate and old.
There’s a crack at the edge
of the world where the dark

and comic leak through:
severed finger, soup-bone,
poison apple, circlet of gold –

what is averted? No one here
is anonymous, someone
hoards all weaknesses, all

secrets, how one day long ago
you wished your boy children gone
and in that flash of anger

they became birds and flew
to the forest. There they await
the magic flower shirts

their sister will one day sew
as fast as she can,
while the pyre burns.



Erica Goss served as poet laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls. She is the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). Erica works as a poet-teacher and Development Director for California Poets in the Schools. Please visit her at ericagoss.com.