Oriana Ivy


From abysses of her skirt she pulls
a pack of cards, draws five,
spreads them in a fan.
My boyfriend and I see only


destiny’s backside,
oily gray as the tail
of an old Warsaw pigeon.
In a pause between the worlds,


she ponders the first card –
slowly looks up
with stone-black eyes:
You are going on a great journey.


I nearly faint. The city swirls
with solstice light; and in my
purse, barely obtained,
my American visa.


You will be rich, the Gypsy drones;
You will have three children . . .
She turns to my boyfriend, draws
another fan of cards:


Fear sits in your stomach.
His face turns completely white –
he’s terrified of the draft.
Behind us, huge heroic


statues of workers and peasants
lift hammers, sickles, march
into the future –
the Gypsy prehistoric,


scarf flowering red poppies.
You are thinking of a female head . . .
You will have two children . . .
He glowers – not with me. 


And you will be rich, she hastily
adds, her bronze narrow hand
plunging my bronze ten zlotys
down the forever of her skirt.


I’m seventeen. So this is fate.
Holding hands, he and I
walk the blossoming boulevards.
“A waste of money,” he says.


Pale golden bells of linden trees
hum with bees, a million voices
droning the same story –
one that begins, A Gypsy said . . .



Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.

Happy Godfather’s Day

Brandon Cesmat


Mexican vendors prepare me for home
with Tony Montana merchandise.
The way little girls wrap themselves in The Little Mermaid towels
or little boys dream in Transformer pajamas,
adolescent males cover dorm walls with Scarface bedspreads and posters.
Tony, the anti-communist drug lord,
overlooks more pyramids of empty beer cans in U.S. dorms
than all portraits of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Abe Lincoln combined.
“Mi padrino,” says the jallero in front of his curios.
Yes, I pray. Our godfather who art lining the way home to El Norte,
hallowed be thy merchandise.
Thy drugs that run, thy empire come,
in Omaha as in Bogata.
I look both ways on this street.
Federales stop traffic for pandillas on the way to playas.
Oh Tijuana, with gangland executions in vacant lots,
Oh Chula Vista, oblivious neighbor where Pontiac sells bullet proof Escalades
Oh the Americas, one continent, so many people.
from TJ to LA hear Don Corleone sing,
(To the tune of “God Bless America”)
Gangster America, land that I whack
from the Indians with casinos
who think they can buy their country back.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the ocean front I own,
gangster America the land that takes,
gangster America, makes no mistakes.



Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.

WMWSD (Weapons of Men Who Self-Destruct)for Sheikh al-Libi, his interrogators and all who believed them

Brandon Cesmat


“Are you horrific, Sheikh al Libi?”
“No!” the prisoner screams.
“Did you witness meetings between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?”
“No!” he screams some more.
“Are you thirsty, Sheikh al Libi?”
and he screams deeply, like a harpooned whale.
During the waterboarding,
Sheikh al Libi asks his interrogators,
Are you really so wealthy
you want to wage another land war in Asia?
I mean, it’ll cost money you ain’t got.
I suppose you could borrow it from China.
I never knew you guys were that tight.
But don’t you love your citizens, more than that?
You’ve don’t have a problem killing us by the thousands,
I get that.
But thousands of your own, really?
Ya know, the lethal stress of the truth
is a slow trauma none of us survives.
The interrogator turned off the hose.
Years ago, he would’ve whipped al-Libi with it.
Now, it was like gardening.
What could he raise in this desert?
“Are you horrific, Sheikh al-Libi?”
“Yes!” Sheikh al-Libi screams.
“Do you want to kill Americans?”
“Yes!” he screams again.
“Do you know where the weapons of mass destruction are?”
They all listened hard. Al-Libi heard the hum of power
running through the prison walls of Bagrahm Air Base,
a hum left there by Soviet electricians,
a power running through thoughtful transformers.
“Of course, I know where the weapons of mass destruction are hidden,”
Sheikh al Libi said, sliding the words like blades
through gaps hypocrisy had blown through their Kevlar.
“I’ll tell you what you want to know.”
And everyone in the room got what he wanted.




Brandon Cesmat please see complete biographical information on the author’s additional works and on the Author’s Page.