THREE POEMS by Caroline M. Mar

/ / Issue 9, Poetry


it lay there, flopping, fish-out-of-water
and my heart trembled on the curb
the usual fisherman’s tales

a woman onlooker upset, that’s animal cruelty
flapping in air, fingers hooked
to its spiracles as its mouth gaped and shut

barbecued stingray is commonly eaten
in Southeast Asia, the flaps, or wings,
most desired for eating

my friend, the doctor, well, it’s not really torture
the lower brain, the lesser feeling
the uncertainty of recent findings

caught one once with five-foot fins
it can live a few hours out of the water, it’s fine
caught a two-to-three-hundred pounder

nociception is the ability of an organism
to identify or notice a harmful stimulus
and react by reflex to avoid it

my heart at the curb, flipping
I walked away, I could not stop
looking back


When she screamed, I thought it was a child.
Later, she would refer to this sound as a “school-girl” sound,
which is – I’ll admit – what it sounded like. But I dislike the connotation
of weakness and young womanhood, to scream like that. It probably isn’t
the sound I would make, being wiser about these things and not new
to the idea like she was. I would like to think I’d have shouted,
stood tall, clapping my hands—
                                                              thok, thok, thok

But this is just what I imagine. And anyway, even if I would have been
more butch in my choice of sound, is that some sort of judgment

on what sounds emerge from what bodies
Who sings and who sighs
Who whispers and who lisps

                                                              It was what she had wanted,
in a way, kept wishing it, and then it happened, and I should have
gone with her, but she said no, and how was I supposed to know
that she wanted me to insist—

When it happened, I thought it was a child. Then, I thought
she must be witnessing it, and how exciting to get what she wanted.
To see it like that. And I wasn’t that worried about the child.
I wasn’t even worried about her.

It was in the quiet, after, where I opened the screen and looked out
at darkness I could not see into—
that was when the fear came.




The snow could be a metaphor for whiteness.
My marriage could be a metaphor for whiteness.

Here is what won’t kill me: my non-blackness.
My what are you, anyway. My almost-whiteness.

When we carried the baby out into it the first time, so eager,
he cried as it hit his face – such coldness, such whiteness.

The latest viral video: cop tipping the wheelchair off
the curb, crosswalk looming, screen gone to whiteness.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to die
in the snow, covered in a whiteness that feels like blues—

You undo it. You undo it, I’m sobbing, you fix it,
so I am not so alone in the face of your whiteness.

Another black body drops in the blueblack night.
At work: we have to start talking about whiteness.

Sometimes, on the mountain, I fall. Everyone far ahead
of me, my slow turns through the wide, sparkling whiteness.

I don’t want it to be personal. I don’t want it
to be my story, our story, inescapable whiteness.

I know his daughter, another body angry as I am
careening down a hallway, get your white-ass hands off me.

She worries, through tears, that our relationship
will not survive it. Her whiteness.

When I panic I feel like I’ll stop breathing. Consider
not breathing, succumbing to the bright light’s whiteness.

There is no snow left in our yard. We mourn
the losses of a changing climate. We miss its whiteness.

We never call each other’s names. I love you,
baby, as we lie down, finally, in the darkness.