Nicole Caruso Garcia

Coloring Book of the Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi's tonsured head
was purple. My mistake. He seemed to wear
a beanie like the Pope's, so how was I
to know his head was partly shaved, a field
where God's light shone its holy tractor beam?
I felt uneasy, having wronged a saint.

The next page showed a young Italian girl.
Maria Goretti was not yet twelve,
but beautiful. Her story new to me,
it told of how, amid her household chores,
an older neighbor boy, enraged, had stabbed
her fourteen times "because she would not sin."

I tried to thumb its meaning like a bead
within a rosary, its place secure.
And on her deathbed she forgave the boy?
He had no halo, and he worried me,
as if I'd heard a jangling chain and feared
what dog might lurch into my yard or when.

I'd rather they had shown Bartholomew.
Beheaded, first he suffered skinned alive.
I could have taken comfort in such gore,
the barber-surgeon's knife in honest view.
Apostles were the renegades, grown men,
and yet Maria's wounds were on my page.

I searched cathedral rows of crayons, found
bright halo yellow, red, and peach for flesh.
Yet blunt with wear, they couldn't be precise.
I knew to hone one worthy, I would have
to peel its sleeve, no measure too severe
when sharpening an instrument of God.


Observe the bluish hue before the dawn,
when snowy trees play hide-and-seek, the grove
so halcyon and feathery with hush.

A twig-lash scarcely blinks. As night's last flakes
fall soft as silent bells, a yawning moon
lays down her bobbin lace and fades to sleep.

When dawn turns violet, trees fringed in gowns
of icy arabesque all masquerade
and peek through veils like breathless woodland brides,

too rapt to know that they already wear
the color of surrender. Innocent
and cosseted as lambs, they stand condemned.

Lament the hour when one vermillion-robed
Inquisitor ascends and takes his seat
within the blue tribunal of the sky.

By noon, that wicked star will strip these maids
who blaspheme beauty too ethereal.
He'll let wet lace drip down their length and pool

around their feet. They'll stir the wind with cries
of Miserere mei, Deus, stretch
their limbs toward heaven, shivering with fire
till mourning doves all startle from their hands.


Nicole Caruso Garcia was born in New Jersey in 1972. She earned her B.A. in English from Fairfield University, and after seven years in corporate industry, she left to earn her M.S. in Education from The University of Bridgeport. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Willow Review, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Soundings East, The Ledge, Poetry Midwest, and Small Pond Magazine of Literature, and she received the Spring 2010 Willow Review Award. She and her husband live in Connecticut, where she teaches literature and creative writing at Trumbull High School. Earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2008.1.


Taylor Altman
Sarah Busse
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Brittany Hill
Lisa Huffaker
Jean Kreiling
Barbara Loots
Charlotte Mandel
Annabelle Moseley
Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Ann Walker Phillips
Carolyn Raphael
Jennifer Reeser
Hollis Robbins
Catherine Tufariello
Doris Watts
Joyce Wilson
Marly Youmans

Fifth-Anniversary MC Reading
West Chester University Poetry Conference
Friday, June 10
8:15 AM
Alice Mizrachi: Growing up in New York, I have been immersed in a culture that is constantly growing. Throughout my work you can feel the influence the city has had on me, the never-ending desire to grow and flow. One common thread in my work is the texture--rhythm and layers. I love to incorporate tactile surfaces that compel the audience to approach and feel it. Timeless and universal, my images evoke a raw feminine energy that leaves you feeling nurtured. My art is a vehicle to express to the world my journey as a NYC female artist in the past, present and future. I am logging my time here. After completing a residency in Paris during 2010, I am focusing on residencies in other cities with the intention of spreading my art globally.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


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