Poetry Suite by Ava Serra

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, January 2nd, 2019

"Where are the robes, the gavel of Lady Law?"


Poetry by Ava Serra

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The Unnaming


May the mortician’s hand slip as it cuts into your flesh,

slices your deli meat heart.

Let them ponder

how to make makeup fix your fists.

May the nameplate fall off in the AC wind.

It would grace you

to bear the name of another,

but I’d never wish your legacy on any corpse

better unidentified than your name,

better burn the atria than open valves of scorpion venom.

May there be a revolution against your tombstone,

a wrecking ball through the carvings,

cement over the years you walked between lakes. You terrorized

since the age of John Lennon, took inspiration from the gun –

remember how you held it to my spine?

Finger cool on the trigger at sunset.


I hope you fear every sunrise and the rays breaking through trees.

May the scalpel slip into your chest,

the tar within spew and bubble out, black magma.

May your name never mar this page or the next.

Consider it a dishonorable discharge from a history book

The one you wrote for me is ash in the sky,

you are grains sinking into an ocean.

May they know no light.

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Amendments for the Judge



It’s a quarter before too late in the chamber,

wedged in the wrinkle between then and now.

I’m not sure if there are windows, less so of my own tongue.

She asks me for my truth and I know less on that

so I translate to fear —

the fist on the kitchen wall

the thump upon my brother’s skull as we waited

for pizza and peace

the fingers up my stomach, too far, too far —



Where are the robes, the gavel of Lady Law?

She is a woman like my mom, with stitches on her mouth,

my teachers who tell me I am lucky and loved,

these ordinary people who do not see

me shedding skin seams, flower flesh flaking

so someone may adore me.

Save me, I mean. How

do I tell this woman

it rains, sometimes, in the house?

Sometimes mom’s eyes sprinkle, sometimes a monsoon.

Sometimes I dive headfirst into a porcelain pool and await a reason to come up

I will almost drown waiting. I will not care.



And how familiar it was to confront a tornado at six.

Not an escape to Oz – I caught the house on my shoulders

and grew with it there.

Never an Atlas, never an Alice, not close to Alexander:

this is the position for a mythical leech,

great vermin. Which mask does he don in your land?

Do you also fear the teeth of his smile?



This is not a time for questions. I’m to tell you how

mom prefers brains on the sidewalk to family dinners.

There’s an echo chamber forming in my mind.

The bats have gone. The bats may be extinct.

The tectonic shift rattles.

I am fluent in echolocation and no language.



Today she requires my testimony

forgetting that neither of us can predict a cave collapse

or Yellowstone’s apocalypse.

It’s how do [I] like my parents and not

how many ways have you learned to tie a noose?

There’s no vacancy for me to say

This is how it feels to crash without a helmet

This is how the kitten feels when a deluge fills the machine

The racoon turns its head straight into the car crash

The corset squeezes the stomach into the lungs

To have stone close in while the emperor laughs

To have cement dry in the mouth

To watch as the guillotine drops on the head before

See the shark and forget how to swim

I think



This is how a fly feels in the flytrap:

to glimpse forever blue through slivers as

acid boils through

flesh and wing. Even in here,

there is his reminder of childhood

bribed away with pancakes, apples with the skin off,

a tug and tangle of his ropes.

Miss, can’t you see the puppet

strings? The puppet hands around my neck?



Do you see a fanged behemoth in a pink shirt, blue jeans?

I check my reflection every day to a lie,

so my Geppetto says. Tell me,

is it normal to have volcano veins under a glacier?


this is not a stomping ground for my question marks

the bang, thump, slip, my cloak of ice, my lightning

strikes over and over and



I don’t want him in trouble.

I don’t know what follows the storm.

My legs tremble even between the earthquakes

and mom’s afraid of heights,

so how can she reach me on this skyscraper pedestal

where I see the world, but the world doesn’t know me?

What does the country smell like outside the chimney?

I’m afraid out there is where the air ends

so, to answer the question



I tell her with my transplant tongue:

Label me endangered.

Put me alongside the tigers.

Hurricanes happen to everyone,

don’t they?

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Header image courtesy of Ervin A. Johnson. To view his artist feature, go here.

Ava Serra is a queer woman with Puerto Rican and Italian roots. Aside from writing projects, she is working on a B.A. in Environmental Science at Northwestern University in Illinois. For introducing her to poetry in 2016, she is immensely grateful for C. Russell Price. Since that introduction, her poetry has been featured in Lavender Review (to be released spring 2019) and POSTSCRIPT. She was also a finalist in the Gwendolyn Brook Open Mic Awards in Chicago, where she dwells and frequently performs.


Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.