Nicole LeDonna, our last finalist writes a story Beyond a Title

Sometimes we can't distinguish between the black hole of our lives and a passing eclipse.

Literati…Did you see funnyman Jon Stewart respondt o the a latest outrage, a shooting massacre that has come with such Uzi succession-frequency that all he could do was tell his audience: “I got nothing,” no sarcasm, no wit to drive home a point. Completely deflated by the events of the day. Do you recall that? Well, here I am having just read Nicole LeDonna’s finalist entry for our contest. Anything I could possibly say would only diminish from the power of the story. So no snarky words, or totally irrelevant graphic. Just her words.

Beyond a title

by Nicole LeDonna

The oldest daughter, seventeen
On her back,
Kitchen table, spread legged,
Her mother and grandmother
Looking on in heavy black caftans,
Like the old Greek ladies on Ocean Parkway.
Your mother with a hanger,
A silver bowl of hot water
Beached white towel
Some utensils. Whisk? Knife? Baster?
I can do this – your mother says
I’ve done it before.
Or, did you make that up?
I’ve seen it done, more like.
What would you do
If you remembered this?
And, the red letters R A P E
Across your inner sky
Like a banner ad
Flying behind a glider over Rockaway Beach?
And, the dream of a chewed up snake
Like Wrigley’s gum rolled by tongue
Gnashed in regular bites?
Right before your thirtieth birthday
Right as the desire to get pregnant
Grabbed you by the corner of the inside
Of your mouth
Like a fish on a hook?
And, it’s then you know
Your child will not call your parents
Grandma, Grandpa.
How far would you swim
Out from the shore
Toward sanity
That watery concept?
Trusting no land
Grasping at
Possibility. The words that tell the the early story,
Over the top.
Words that make no sense
Need strong medicine.
They can be anything.
Fairy tales of spirits that guide,
Travel to other galaxies to find
true family.
Or the one about everything is better
When you are dead.
And, here now, behold,
The strangest tale of all.
The one that inhabits space with
The low, sodden thud
Of blood brown flesh
As it hits the bottom
Of a brown paper sack
The seepage a portent.
Every look back is a pillar of salt.
Telling old tales will only bring harm.
What will you make of the next step?
By force of will
Empty your mind
In this new, noiseless universe
Can you confess
That the beat of your heart
Each desire
Emanates like a small sea,
Where clear destination
Benefits from elemental and
Cooperative navigation?
The willingness to hear,
The courage to steer.

"...indistinguishably lie, dark sea, dark sky..." Stephen Crane
“…indistinguishably lie, dark sea, dark sky…” Stephen Crane

10 comments

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    While the central content subject is clear to me; I am left with fractured phrase impressions, disjointed confusions and the vertigo of not being cohesive. Perhaps I got lost by what I perceived as not having continuity. Perhaps I felt thrown around unable to focus; while wondering what age and whom the young girl really was. There is beauty in phrases throughout, but I didn’t feel the connection between them enough to appreciate this entry as a whole.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Upon fifth or so reading, I am beginning to connect the dots and appreciate this poem better, but not completely. “Beyond a title” is raw emotions, scattered impressions, tragic outlook, visual brutality and murderous regrets which will leave scars for life from someone too young to be an adult whether 13 or 17. It is both over the top in actions taken and beneath the surface in thoughts seeping up from within. I would be interested to know if this poem was intended to be set before the Roe v Wade decision of 1973.

  2. Susan Brittain says:

    Nicole’s writing is real, angry and tragic but it challenges us to look at parts of life we keep tucked away in the closet or beneath the surface. Great job Nicole.

  3. kyle katz says:

    Nice Nicole. A hard subject to tackle and make the reader feels its importance. A poetic beauty. My only observation as a reader never having the pleasure of tasting your words is: some phrases ran away too soon off the page, feeling disjointed. I wanted the words to hold me in the palm of your hand…if for a second . Sort of like the white space in a painting. But I agree…I love your fierceness! Good luck Nicole.

  4. Michael says:

    Bravo! Nicole, if you feel itchy all over, can’t keep yourself from checking in? The cure is simple. Come back to us in the next contest. Your stories are interesting in front of a tour-de-force talent. Keep writing.

  5. Mac Eagan says:

    Too often, people draw the conclusions that a) any series of rhyming phrases constitutes “poetry” in the classic sense, or b) any series of non-rhyming phrases, a couple inches or so wide, stacked on top of each other constitutes “modern” poetry.
    There is so much more to writing good poetry (a gift I do not have) and you have achieved it here.

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