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Two poems by Irene Fick

The Air Inside

The Voice Lesson

Searching for air, I mine deep

into this cryptic cavern. The coach intones,

Breathe! Your air must wind

its way up

from the diaphragm, pass

through the chest cavity, the throat, then gush

from your mouth. Imagine

your air spinning out in circles.

But my air seems clotted,

held captive inside my core.

The Family

I held my breath to survive in strained

and tainted air, choked by the pall

of tobacco smoke everywhere. Later,

I waited for one more sigh, one more sign

of life as their lungs collapsed.

This is now an old refrain. It remains.

The Poem

Allow your poetry to breathe. Give it some air,

counsels the critic. I am afraid

my poetry has settled

into the clenched comfort

of crowded lines, lyrics that collide. I need

to find the air, let it breathe life

into the poem, then listen

as the words begin to sing.

A Narrative Poet Lost in the Lyric Moment

I enter the bolted doors of Memory Care, pass those who wander

through this uncharted, dreaded abyss.

The looming storm, wild, willful, incessant…

She waits in a winged chair below the chandelier. She wears frayed

slacks, a sweater stained with the remains from lunch. She clutches

a small bag stuffed with tissues, crumpled notes, bits of hard candy.

The dark, trembling waters beckon…

We sit in silence. I hold her hand. Our ties are long and tender.

I linger.

Waves pummel the lifeboats that drift on the edge of the shore….

She looks bewildered, but not distressed. I want to imagine

her floating in the loft of her broken mind where long-ago stories

are sheltered.

We are caught in this avalanche of ache, this dried up sea of broken glass.


Irene Fick is the author of The Wild Side of the Window (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2018), her second collection of poetry, which received the first place award from the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW). Her first book, The Stories We Tell (The Broadkill Press), also received this honor. Her poem, Off Season, received the first place award in the single poem category from NFPW. Irene’s poems have been published in such journals as Poet Lore, Gargoyle, The Broadkill Review, Philadelphia Stories, Mojave River Review and The Delmarva Review. She is a Pushcart nominee for a poem published in Poet Lore. In 2018, Irene was selected to participate in the annual Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. The following year, she was invited to read her poetry at Café Muse in Bethesda, Maryland. She lives in Lewes, DE and is active in two local writers’ organizations.

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