Stop and Smell the Roses


The Ford lost its power on the uphill.  Jessica floored the pedal but the Focus jerked right and skidded on gravel.  Her heart skipped a beat at the momentary loss of control.  Smoke swirled from the beneath the hood.

“Shit.  Shit, shit, shit.  Shit.”  She kicked the tire as if the car could fix itself with such an inane gesture.  She cupped her hands over her eyes to survey the location.  She saw grazing sheep below the meadow.  Their curly wool a pale yellow matted with leaves and twigs.  Their brown ears twitched at buzzing gnats.  The mechanical failure was worth the peaceful sight before her.

The Glimmering Room

     On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, I attended a reading by Cynthia Cruz who read from The Glimmering Room, a collection of poetry.  Like Black Tickets by Jayne Anne Phillips, Cruz unapologetically gets into the heads and lives of those living in the fringes of society, specifically young teenagers, who cling on to childhood memories even as their bodies are used in damaging ways.

Unlike the colorful characters Cruz brings to life through language, she herself is unassuming, carrying herself with a quiet dignity.  Her pale complexion blended into her beige peter-pan top as if to evoke a blank canvas.  It is this blank canvas that she uses to absorb her surroundings and shed light on sensitive and seedy subjects that society prefers to turn a blind eye to and keep in the dark, as depicted in “The Great Destroyer”:

“Tanned Army recruiters

Cruise the poor man’s mall

For sixteen-year-olds and pretty

Boy, vegan dead luckers

Their perfect child-thin arms

Ribboned in orange and green

Ink dragons and sick

Their whole life

With this disease”

Particularly disturbing are scenes of incest such as “California”:

“Her face a fixed mask

Of secret terror.

What her father did to her

In the night—

Help me she said”

And, “Strange Gospels”:

“My brother …

… He is inside me now.

Pounding out his thick, black words

In German.”

We readers wish to turn away from these scenes but Cruz has a remarkable ability of juxtaposing them with colorful and childlike symbols, such as the decayed dreams of a 31-year-old junkie in “Unheard Music”:

“A long sheet of white

Cake, orange and pink frosting flowers,

Candles and no one

Knows where Sarah’s


            It is for these lost children our hearts ache for; the ones with robbed childhoods, forced into wasted lives where they beg hallucinogens to erase their memories even if for just a little while.  A deep, thought provoking read.

Carmen Ivelisse Hernandez nee Figueroa

Her smile shone bright and lit every room she entered, even the olive drab ICU she got to know intimately.  The light she radiated overshadowed the reality of her baldhead, or protruding cheekbones and visible collarbone.  The sounds of the room’s consistent beeps as well as the dark circles around her eyes faded with that smile.  Joie vivre sprouted from a well deep inside her.  The pain that ravaged her frail body did not wipe away her smile or erase her kind words.  It merely escalated her Faith in God as she joyfully prepared for her final journey.  RIP Ivy.