Tag Archives: Katrina K Guarascio

Oh Lord

by Katrina K Guarascio

The first fright of my toddlerhood
comes with the skinned knees I earn
as I roll under the slow-moving car and
watch the underbelly of blackened gears pass overhead.
I cry because it is supposed to hurt,
not because I recognize the pain.

My mother curls me on the worn brown velvet
of my grandmother’s chair,
anoints the cuts with antiseptic.
Back when my hair was still blonde, she sings the only
song she knows that mentions the idea of God.

It is the first song that saved my life.

Oh Lord,
won’t you buy me…

the sound of combusting glass
echoes inside our tiny white house.
The one with no showerhead above the claw foot tub.

We were living off of Ramen noodles and
peanut butter sandwiches when the caustic shards spat
on the kitchen floor. It was then I first learned
the stinging lesson of touch.

My mother’s scream assured me of the pain
hot glass should inflict on five year old flesh.
She placed my hand under running water as
the skin swelled red and bubbled to blister,
her lips pressed tight in concentration.

Oh Lord…

The answer to my mother’s song came in
a green eyed man with a charismatic grin, a good job,
and a tendency to drink too much.

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,
my friends all drive Porches, I must make amends.

That Mercedes, big, white sedan
gobbled diesel back when it was the economical way to go.

The car the Lord bought us would drive us
from California to New Mexico to California to New Mexico,
and back again and back again.

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color tv,
dialing for dollars is trying to find me.

That color television with every channel
1980’s cable had to offer played MTV back
when music was the only thing that could
save a mortal soul.

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town,
I’m counting on you Lord, please don’t let me down.

And He gave us those nights out, with
a beer in one hand, a red face, and a loud laugh.
My mother curled my hair,
painted blue eye liners to lids and
poured wine into my adolescent glass
under the uncaring eye of the wait staff.
Another round, another round, another round.

Oh Lord,
You must have been listening,
must have been trying to answer the hymns of a single mother,
but no good comes without its price.
What consequences could be predicted
of a German car, a color tv,
and few too many nights on the town?

Take us back Oh Lord,
to the simplicity of survival,
when all I knew of pain is what could felt
from a skinned knee and a blister on my thumb.

Before the beer cans rolled on the floor of the car,
before the television shattered to brick mantel,
before cruel hands bruised my mother’s neck,
before I picked her off the floor to hold her
and rock her to the first song that saved my life.

Oh Lord,
I don’t want anything money can buy.

Give me my mother holding
my childhood on her lap,
rocking me in my grandmother’s chair,
stroking my hair back when it was still blonde,
singing to me.


Turning Tricks

by Katrina K Guarascio

You are not the girl you were before,
but not all these tricks are new.

Some remain trapped inside pulled muscles
and survival instinct.

Disfigurement of fingerprint bruises
on fourteen year old trachea.
White striped scars against tanned skin.
Tiny circles of cigarette tips
left on the underside of American thighs.

Old tricks concealed in the green casing of
jade scarves,
                  ill patterned tattoos,
                                        and skirts cut at the knees.

There is a metamorphosis scratching,
a change of perception
hanging upside down from the higher branches.
Discoloration solidifies,
a healing of harm inflicted on adolescent flesh.

Balancing acts shift from high beam to fingertips.
Sleeves conceal tricks of trade
instead of slices at the nape of wrist.

You’re not the girl you were before
but not all these tricks are old.

A reformation recognizable
not only in breast bone and high forehead,
but in the pacing of breath
and the stillness of soul.

Cocoon continues to cling to branch.
Skin sheds over five life times,
caterpillar remnants catch on ankle,
but they do not drag you,

Transform under the thumb of time,
crack chrysalis into a thousand sharp flecks
and puzzle the pigments together into a
newly formed pattern, still crumpled and wet
with the residue of rebirth.

Blood Lines

by Katrina K Guarascio

You were the strongest woman I’d ever known,
roman black spirals,
unyielding backbone supports
chiseled shoulder blades,
indented flecks of flesh pool
                  drops                  of                 blood,
slanted cheekbones reflect every bruise,
a public record of the times you let them destroy you.

They took your body
never your power,
your strength.
This blood,
                  this dirt,
torn clothes,                     hair undone,
leaving you naked and collapsed in the mud,
it was all part of your plan.

Broken fingernails and split lips
made you infinitely stronger.

The world was savage then,
riding bikes to the bridge
with crimson staining your thighs,
spotting clay trail.

Innocence plucked
fresh as the flowers
you chose on your wedding day.

You needed
white gladiolus,
to prepare for battle,
purple lilac,
to perfume presence.
Freshwater pearls to hang
against brown skin.

You needed perfection,
to make new.
You were too beautiful then
for feral seasons of formative youth
to be recalled.

And when you found the one
                                to take you to America,
you bought your own flowers,
dressed in presumptive white,
and went to his door for his proposal.

A terrible,               beautiful,                 fearless
god among peasants;
you were always looking over their heads.

Worth It

by Katrina K Guarascio

He says he misses
watching you try on clothes,
and looks at you in a way
you can could never look at yourself.

He says you’ve gotten thin,
but he always knew exactly what to say
to get your ribs to show.

He says he accepts you.

But there is a cancer
nestled in the back of your throat.
An unexpected betrayal
of body from mind
and when you tell him
you won’t be there
he assures you, you will.

When you tell him
he won’t see you anymore
he says,
he’ll find you.

And it breaks your heart,
it breaks your heart.
You have already let yourself go,
why won’t he do the same.

He needs you at four in the morning,
when it’s cold and the wind is whimpering,
the house is chattering,
ghosts are roaming.
He needs your arms
he needs this,
and he doesn’t accept your refusal.

You tell him,
everything stops
He says, why?

You tell him,
you’re so tired.
He says, he knows,
he’s tired too.

You tell him,
your time is up.
He says,
you will always be with him.

The promises of permanence
in the face of flux
cracks the most delicately woven excuses.
Why won’t he just admit,
no one,

The beast inside your throat,
these sores and blisters are disease,
and this death is not a threat,
but a guarantee.
You’ve been putting off that trip
to the doctor for too long.

You ask him,
if he wishes he never met you,
if the avalanche which toppled his mountain
is worth it.

He says his only home is in your arms.
His only peace is you and always will be.

Every minute was worth it.


by Katrina K Guarascio

Wood, bone, steel,
are easier to bend
than the unseen.

At least this is how she felt.

No wall,
no gate,
no line marked clearly
in dead, brown dirt.

Yet the boundaries were
claimed long ago,
and the consequences,

outlined in the eyes
of fatherless children
and the creases
of blood-caked knuckles
woven tightly around
broken wooden beads.

Our Fathers
whispered in remorse
can’t reclaim immaculacy
or breathe life
into an aborted chest.

Inscribed doors
sway open,
attempting to reclaim
a wayward soul,
but persecuting eyes
form unyielding barriers.

The reflection of
stained glass colored
her skin long ago.
The circling stations,
familiar faces murmur
Sunday morning’s story
of pink and pearl.

As a child,
she could recite all their songs.

Cut Away

by Katrina K Guarascio

My aunt’s breasts did not murder her.
But they fell,
one by one,
overripe fruit.
I remember she said,
once they were gone,
she didn’t feel much like a woman

After the first surgery
she showed us her stitched skin.
The higher part bronzed from a summer by the pool,
roughly stapled to once upper abdominal white.

She had no nipples.
It was an awkward realization.
She would eventually have picturesque replicas tattooed on.
Eventually implants would replace the smooth boy chest.
Desperate to become woman again.

It was the curve of my mother’s hips
that lead to her betrayal.
A wanton child nestled in uterus waiting
impatiently to spread,
to creep into belly,
to stretch into tubes and ovary,
submerge in blood.

Sound waves reveal a tumor
embedded in endometrial lining.
I recall the subtle realization
sonograms are not just for spying
unborn children.

The surgeons left a scar from belly button downward
where womb was pulled from body.
Similar to a caesarian incision,
only deeper.

These parts,
breast, uterus,
systematically removed,
the woman cut from our beings.
Never knowing they would be missed
until they were gone.

What offense deemed us unworthy
of these precious female features?
The landscape gifted without asking,
now taken despite pleas.
This anatomy that defined us women,
what is left when it is gone?

Was it the deep throaty
voice of my aunt that frightened
the feminine away?

Were my mother’s hands
too masculine to hold a
womb any longer?

Will I pay for the sins
of a barren belly and one
too many late nights
matching pints with the boys by having
the female raped from my body
with cold scalpel and surgical staples?

The women of my family
are blessed with beautiful breasts,
curved hips, and a predisposition of cancer.

We women of shared blood,
of mirrored images and reflective habits,
who can’t quite quit cigarettes,
who have a weakness for men who drink too much,
who are so giving of our time,
our lives, our flesh,
we still miss these parts that are cut away.