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Gila River Review
Lois Roma-Deeley

The Minister of Rush Street


What, father, do you put into my hand?—Harry Jones


Be smoke rising from the iron grates of Rush Street,

touch no one. 

Be the rattle in the brain of those who cannot sleep.

Be the bullet after it has left the gun.

Be the ship sailing into the mouth of a harbor;

the sea will fear you.

Be the roar inside the bird’s stomach,

time will split in two.

Be lips upon the thighs of an unforgiving woman

who sings the blues.

Take this and

be the sum of all colors: pure white. 

Be ice,

the cracking in the limbs of birch trees,

the heavy sound

in the forest of all that breaks and falls. 

Be that refusal

which does not bow and will not weep.




Confession: An Angel Answers Art Pepper


You lean both elbows on the sill.

It’s winter.  The day is growing dark.

Tracing a star

into the circle your breath makes on the glass

you stop.  Something

like the wind is reaching for you. 

There are no footprints at the front door.

Snow is shoved against the sides of the street.

Voices shout from another room.

You think you know them—

the familiar arc of speech, slurred words,

the syntax of desire.

If this were not your own life, it would be romantic:

the sun setting into the snow,

the snow turning orange in the cold,

blue notes on a saxophone,

tracks under your tongue, between your toes—

You sigh—

just outside this window there is a field

which stretches to a small lake. 

There ghosts hang from winter trees. 

Their eyes are open.  Their necks, broken.

The wind confesses to the sky:


So be it


Bird Talk


The Jazz man is at the pawn shop.  The door is about to close.

His horn nests in a hole of torn wool, grown large under the left arm

of the last wool jacket he owns.


This seemed like a good idea: buy a ticket

for New York, Paris, Rome—


Across the street, birds talk

among the leaves:


be the rippling not the stone—

be the whisper inside the ear

be the train and not the station


be intention


be the green beneath the sun

be the book and not the words

be that rest between the notes


be fluid and harsh—


be large


be the rising within a moan

be the step and not the shoe

be the ringing of alarm—


the wind inside the throat—


be opened

Lois Roma-Deeley, winner of the Samuel T. Coleridge Literary Prize, is the author of three collections of poetry. High Notes, her third collection, was published from Benu Press in 2010. The book forms the basis of a jazz opera she is writing with composer Christopher Scinto. Benu Press awards The Samuel T. Coleridge Prize for "an outstanding work of literature, written by a contemporary author, that fulfills Coleridge's vision of the artist as a reconciling architect of the imagination. Such a work invites us to examine our understanding of the world, establishing new meaning in a just future transformed by possibility."

Her second book, northSight (2006), earned her a nod from the Los Angeles Book Prize nominating committee and received critical praise.

Rules of Hunger, her first full-length poetry collection (2004), earned her a National Book Award nomination.

Roma-Deeley has taught creative writing at the graduate and undergraduate levels for more than 25 years. She has given poetry readings nationwide, including: Bowling Green State University, University of Wisconsin--Waukesha, Arizona State University (main, west and east campuses), Northern Arizona Book Festival, AWP Conference in Atlanta, West End Reading Series in Ithaca, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Humanities Festival, Clearwater Flordia Public Library, Harold Washington College, Phoenix College, Austin Community College, Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Changing Hands Bookstore, Book Stall Bookstore, Antigone Bookstore, Biblio Books, Reader's Oasis, Borders, Phoenix Writers Club, ARC Gallery, ARTFIT, Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art, Scottsdale Cultural Council and many others. 

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