Voices clamor, church bell,
simple brass, a calling
breeze to leaves ---
Others tempt to want
more: armor, blood, men
on horseback, her own pike,
a way to alchemize
plain men into kings.
Jeanne was an arrow to the jugular.
He reaches for my face, slides his wrinkled
hand and untrimmed nails through
my clean, dark hair. He rests his hand on my back,
like a hot coal, says qué linda, looks at me as if
I am wine his thirst is entitled to. I hear voices too:
Throw him into the blazing furnace. Cut off his hand. Let moth
and rust burn off his fingers. Lake of fire, burning sulfur.
My other voices try and reason:
Your silence is gold your first year on the job.
He is retiring anyway. It will pass.
I change classrooms to avoid him.
I’m not sure who is going mad or if any of this
is worth burning for, but I can’t drop my spear.
Once, a voice told me if you map
the course of any river, you will get the profile
of a woman, because rivers
turn into women: some crowned, others round like belly,
messengers feeding the same ocean,
water thrashing at snake
tongues of fire. ______________________________________________________________ Allison Albino is a Filipina-American poet and French teacher who lives and writes in Harlem. Her work has either appeared or is forthcoming with The Rumpus, The Lantern Review, Pigeon Pages, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, The Fine Arts Work Center and Tin House. Her chapbook, “My Mother’s Prufrock”, was a finalist for YesYes Books’ 2019 Vinyl 25 Chapbook Contest. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and has an M.A. in French literature from NYU.