Two Poems by pauLA neves

holy water (the second coming of drought)

monday night. i’ve traveled to the house where i grew up. where my parents once lived apart, and still do. where my mother once lived alone, and still does. to check on her dogs that now are my cats. her tenants have been caring for them while she’s been in portugal for a month. i hire a pet sitter instead. once if not twice a week i check in on things. my therapist says that’s a good thing. i let the dogs out. i play with the cats, who play dead cerberus. i put on my running shoes. i head for the park, where i played tennis with my brother during summer vacations. or strolled sunday mornings instead of being in church. this humble municipal acreage is my lot. this summer has been unrelentingly dry and hot. in this winter that is like dogs and cats. a drought is upon us and we say so what? it’s may and october and the romance is dog shit and dried leaves. blue-eyed tony kisses dark-eyed maria on a nearby bench. only the irish have moved out to bergen county and we’re following suit. few of us remember what’s what: tony and maria met in a factory. tony and maria actually just met. tony and maria are both portuguese. they started before my father left? someone hasn’t told us yet. how to look for water in a drought. how to be divining rod and arc. i wonder as i sprint. why the twilight is perfect. i’m rounding the path at a clip. why is the twilight perfect? i finish, and the haze and heat that have built up all day grant me the serenity to notice what can’t. and for all that a single line of sweat rolls down my back, moisture too salty too little too late. to save the trees or myself. don’t hold it against me or them. 
at least

a small victory
is righting the garbage cans

after they’re emptied
before wind does its number

casts them in the road
by then it’s too late

cars swerve or hit them
not self driving yet

and what am i missing
but the sense of that sharp

ghost limb of January 
satellites say

this winter still is
try not to notice

walk to the dollar store
pick out new readers

someone works there
looks like my cousin

without glasses on
shows his aunt how to use debit

on the tap machine
says of course you are welcome

she jokes in an accent
he’s not really my nephew

but i’m not blind yet
and the ghost limb  

stops hurting 
finally i think

paulA neves is a Newark native, author of the poetry chapbook capricornucopia: the dream of the goats (2018), and co-founder of Parkway North Productions, which produced the award-winning documentary “The Remedy” about two NJ hip hop artists/musicians. neves received the 2020 NJ Poets Prize from the Journal of NJ Poets. Follow @itinerantmuse. 

Guest Editor, José Faus is a founder of the Latino Writers Collective. His writing appears in numerous anthologies. His chapbook This Town Like That was released by Spartan Press. His second book of poetry The Life and Times of Jose Calderon was published by West 39 Press.


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