The Suicide's Last Secret

In the wake of the horrific news that poet Reetika Vazirani apparently took her own life—and that of her 2-year-old son, Jehan … the temptation to draw parallels between poetry and suicide is great.--Washington Post, Saturday, July 19, 2003


I don't know you well enough

to follow your lure, your allure
something akin to the stars: far off
and vaguely sparkly, but cold.

Certainly you must hold something
of a respite from pain, but pain is all you seem
to me, suffering

hanging in the air like milk—nebular.
When I think you around, death,
I am most troubled by your recall

of children, mothers removing them to your dark house
What honed Reetika to the bone? How is it

that she was
so crazy with desire for your refuge? Sylvia, at least she left
her children intact.

Light years
into the deep dark, they shine
back, projecting parallel in death, dual beams of unhappy light.

I drink their poetry warm
like blood, scaling
the walls of my own skull, slippery with reasoning,

as my sons wail and wander the house, hungry, dirty--
looking for me in darker corners
as I am looking for you.

Current Issue

Previous Issue

Editor's Note



Necessary Alms

Quick toes make chords, strumming strings, disarming,
curbed, guitar gutter-held, praying for alms,
passersby walk on, sigh, stare, cup near bare.

A rare cloud dresses the blank sky threadbare,
captive, a crowd of upstretched Palms sway arms,
calm sky, balmy air, mild earthly alms.

Sleeves waggle in the noon-lit breeze; a bare
armed cluster of strangers present their alms,
the cup's basin bearing penance for arms

unwittingly tea-steeped. Alms bared for arms.

the casualty of genes

informal genetic misinformation urged into indelible
birthmark chiseled design etched deep into the tiniest
morsel delectable child cake wine and heavy bread
of existence as I know it apprehensively gingerly
I approach as though the dead may haunt rattle chains
with memory's mention of names sheets of foil peeled
back to reveal not ghastly poltergeist or ghoul
but the simple flawed ingredients of human construction
that make us up as they go along goad the ineluctable
hand washing before each meal after during opening
and shutting doors seventy times before entering
the hall I seat myself upon the table opened mouth wide
the diner heredity eating me alive.

Cati Porter is a poet, artist, and freelance writer. Her poetry has most recently appeared in the fall issue of Poetry Midwest and the winter issue of Banyan Review. She lives in Riverside, California, with her husband and two sons.

Copyright 2004, Cati Porter. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.