Alexandra Umlas

Ordinary Ends

Mine is an ordinary life for sure—
most would concur.
Small sorrows, only ones that I can bear,
no rare disease, no sharp grief to endure
or not endure, no stifling lack of air

or freedom, no untethered need to drink,
no leaden breath,
no suicidal thoughts when by the sink
washing the dishes, no feet on the brink
of slipping to an early, soapy death.

Just small annoyances: knees that stay sore,
a twinging wrist,
remembering that I've read this book before
when half-way through, the never ending chore
of crossing things out on my growing list

of things to do, small holes in well-worn clothes,
(I cannot sew)
a fierce desire to swim against the flow,
two willful kids, a husband that I chose—
all ordinary things, and yet I know

disaster sits, a winged thing waiting to
whir suddenly. I hear its patient sigh
in every ordinary moment. You
know, so do I—
that ordinary ends; all good things do.

These Children Frighten Me

These children frighten me, their mouths, the ruin
of bones that sprout like rose buds when they're teething,
their crescent-moon smiles bridge the afternoon,

the dark mush held in glass jars, pear and prune,
long wailing, paired with throated, labored breathing.
These children frighten me, their limbs, the ruin

of long nights without sleep, the blue raccoon
circles beneath eyes, my angry seething
crawls from its shell in the spoiled afternoon;

and sometimes things get thrown, a glare, a spoon,
a tantrum—we tiptoe around messes, weaving
between mislaid Legos, bruises, knees in ruin.

I have been told that all this ends too soon—
that I will often think back not believing
how small they were in Spring's coiled afternoon,

where seed sprouts, turns to blossom, sudden bloom,
and falls in sun, the necessary cleaving
that frightens me, the what if they… the ruin
of dawn to morning, of noon to afternoon.

My Mother Takes the Axe

My mother takes the axe and swings an arch—
it whooshes through the air, hits wood on sand,
the night is coming with its silent march,
and wood for kindling must be chopped by hand.

Us three kids watch her gracefulness until
the axe blade seems to slice down with the sun
and catches finger-tip and then she's still
for just a moment, and what's done is done.

She asks for ice and reaching to the ground,
she picks her finger up, says she's alright,
instructs us she'll be back, don't make a sound, a
nd drives herself away into the night.

The tip was trashed, she said, us three kids trembling
at the prospect of our mother's disassembling.


She slipped the glass into her purse, the drinks
are so expensive here—they'll never mind…
she mouthed the slice of orange down to the rind;
the thirties never left her, so she thought,
hold on to what you can. Her thin arm fought
to find mine until we were intertwined—
she never did like leaving things behind.

It's been thirty years since then, the memory clinks,
a Cheers! to savored guilt, a small reprieve
from all the stuff she's giving me that I
don't want to take. The sun folds in the sky,
as she finds those items that she's loath to leave:
that Vegas glass; a softly wilting blouse.
I take the things—twilight takes the house.


Alexandra Umlas is a recent graduate of California State University's MFA Poetry program. You can find her work in Rattle, Shrew Literary Magazine, and Cultural Weekly, among others, or at www.alexandraumlas.com. Her crown of sonnets won first place in the 2018 Poetry Superhighway Poetry Contest. She currently reads for Palette Poetry.


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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Aemilia Lanyer by Maryann Corbett.

Kathleen McClung was the recipient of the 2019 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Rounded in deep compassion for the human experience across borders, Mizrachi explores both the spiritual and physical dimensions of being human, and in particular, female. Often times, the female figure in various mythical iterations intersects with earthbound feminine forms as a means to communicate and transmit social consciousness. Mizrachi’s intentions include the empowerment of self and others through artistic expression, as well as advocacy for women, youth, and the environment. Family, community, and tribe are also recurring themes and are approached as active spaces of shared engagement. In recent years, Mizrachi’s studio practice has developed into a testing ground for explorations in assemblage, sculpture, and installation that has transformed both her painting practice and decades of work as a muralist. Moving beyond paint, her small scale pieces have become sculptural drawings and her murals have become outdoor wall installations. Both styles of work have taken on new life as three dimensional geometric forms.

32 Poems
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