Poetry: The Heart-wrenching Demise of Kissie Descalpo

She sailed to India in a paper boat, entering

the mouth of the Ganges with burned palms,

a lifeline the length of a cherry bomb fuse.

It was expected-- like the burp of a baby, like

the inevitable coming of spring, like the molting

of snake skin--that the river would spit her out

somewhere along a burnt-sienna, croc-infested

bank. All the tea in India was infused with sassy

spices, which burned her soul, quarantined her tongue

inside an ancient glass jar. She got it stuck more than

once. Silicon dioxide must have an afterlife.

Skinny kids with fish-bone ribs, pushed her

back into water. The brick in her back pocket

from Janis Joplin’s house somewhere in Texas

pulled her down into mud and bottom-dwellers;

almost drowned seven times.

She had lost her alphabet and night vision while

finding herself in the Punjab. Nothing was the same.

It hardly ever is. Shadows ate her heartbeat while

hot rocks dissolved the skin on her soles.

More was never enough. A film of dust settled

on her hungry coffin long before she finished

flying past her own history. With one red brick

to her name, Kissie Descalpo climbed onto a bed

of coals and shut her eyes forever.

John Dorroh likes to travel and write and cook things. He plays with words and digs in the dirt, turning the soil to see what he can find. He taught science for a long time and now he shares with other teachers how he used writing strategies to help young learners make sense of the natural world.

His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Feral, Dime Show Review, Ospressan, North Dakota Quarterly, Dead Mule Society, Red Fez and Selcouth Station.