Cracked Looking Glass, a Collection | The New Engagement

Cracked Looking Glass, a Collection

By Lois Roma-Deeley

The Only White Woman In the Room


I like these black and brown women

and they like me. So when they said

Come With. I said, Okay. Sure. Why not. Make no mistake,

this isn’t even a poem

about seeing something, being something—

it’s not even a metaphor about what I didn’t know

or where I journeyed to or where I come from.—

it’s just a story about not knowing

on this particular evening in the early part of winter

when we all gathered in the big ball room

of the university which sits on the edge of the desert

gossiping about the big boss and how this work place

just won’t give us a break and how

we really should be moving on soon;

when these beautiful women, dressed like angels of God,

in flowery silk dresses that float across the room, a hymn of grace

rising out the mouths of a church choir; when these women

whose spiky heels on bare tile announce

a woman of consequence is coming towards you.

So that’s the scene. Got it?

My friends are talking and laughing with me

before the speeches start and while I’m sipping my drink, and then

now this is the part where you must pay attention—

at this precise moment and for no reason at all

I suddenly notice I’m white—


what if they notice how white I am?

then, in a panic, I want to tuck in my whiteness

like it’s something stuck on the back of my shirt and

I should try to fold it all in—all that whiteness—

‘cause I don’t want to be embarrassed by something

it feels like I should control. Still and much later

when I recount the story, making fun of myself as I tell it,

and my Latina friend just smiles at me and it’s then

I finally stop talking.





Moon Star Looks Into the Night Sky and Sees You There


Breaking the boredom of unemployed hours,

you drained the last Bud from your last six pack when

she showed up, asking Do you want to party?


That girl, the one who calls herself Moon Star,

giggles she as climbs into the front seat of your Chevy.

Now a sleek Mustang pulls up alongside,

honking at the two of you. In this desperate night.


when all the cars cruise up and down Van Buren street

and every radio station is blasting

“Angel of the Morning”— over and over—

you just want to hurt somebody.


You open your mouth. The Mustang takes off,

its triple plated Mag Wheels glinting

under the halo of a street lamp

like the eyes of a saint lost in ecstasy. And now she kisses you


and it’s more like a dare than a promise.

The scent of lavender soap in her cotton blouse mingles

with the smell of a wet dog. Red blotches

the size of whole continents erupt on her neck and shoulders.


Suddenly she clears a spot on the foggy windshield,

I want you, she says taking off her bra, to take a good look

she whispers, unzipping her too tight jeans,

at the stars in the heavens, and now


the night sky is really spinning. See? she says,

it’s Orion with his spear—

then pushing her hand deep inside your pants, oh Lord!

how she laughs.




Dyslexic Me


Sometimes the beginning and end of a word

whiz(      )zes on by me so quickly

it’s as if

I’m standing on the side of this long road

when it’s been raining all day and all night and

I’m pulling my rain jacket cl( )ose to my chest,

shoving my hands in both pockets just to keep warm,

wondering, now, which way I should be going,

when, suddenly,

three short bursts of a pneumatic whistle

from this 12 geared, turbo charged, 40 ton, 80 foot MACK truck, screams

step back

and I jump into the weeds, stepping on broken glass and now

all I know is

something big is about to pass me by,

heading for the mouth of the dark tunnel

which is buried underground and beneath the riverbed ,

and the thing won’t stop

for anyone or anything and now

all I can do is guess at what it all might mean

when the steel disc wheels crush through the puddles,

the diesel exhaust slaps the side of my face,

when there’s only the head(         )lights,

then the only the tail(      )lights, and

every(      )thing in(      )between

is nothing

but swirls of dust and fog.

Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent collection, The Short List of Certainties, won the Jacopone da Todi Poetry Book Prize and is forthcoming from Franciscan University Press in 2017. Her other books include: Rules of Hunger (2004). northSight (2006) and High Notes (2010), a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Roma-Deeley has published poetry in numerous anthologies and literary journals including, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity Anthology, Spillway, Juked, Water~Stone Review,and many others. She is the recipient of a 2016 Arizona Commission on the Arts Grant.

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