Swallow’s Lament

Far beneath the grasp of my wings I can see fields of linseed and barley,
their sheathes rippling like waves
that swirl outwards and upwards.
We try to connect, but the expanse of air that separates us holds firm.

Far above the grasp of my wings I can see stretches of blue and gold,
a sun and a sky to behold, a sunset
brighter than the murk of dusk.
We try to connect, but the expanse of air that separates us holds firm.

Far ahead the grasp of my wings I can see flocks of periwinkle and gray,
shades that clamp together and
move as a single thought.
We try to connect, but the expanse of air between us holds firm.

Far behind the grasp of my wings I can see angles of peaks and slopes of valleys,
both making harsh ridges that divide
where the world begins and ends.
We try to connect, but the expanse of air between us holds firm.

It is not easy to fly alone, and yet there is no way to twist among the brambles
of rose bushes like so many of my brothers and sisters,
to grasp fields or stretches or flocks or angles or slopes,
and yet these are the places where I fly, where my wings
connect with everything and nothing all at once,
wrapping it into a single entity by my snowy belly and
storing it in the depths of
gossamer air.



apocalypse: the new pantheon

eclipsing beyond the dawn
& away beneath our galaxy
shifting in primordial ichor
emerging from stardust aglitter
a new life borne
from the anguished cries of those
now twice-gone,
in fire & chaos.
they come from the depths
of the cosmos,
where falcons fly
once they begin to soar,
& where daylight streams forth
torrents from old Aurora’s torch.
here they come,
across the yellowed parchment,
upon which we once wrote our histories,
now crumbling;
how brief & forgettable.
a new pantheon,
for a new age.
one goddess leads in a chariot
drawn by glassy heavenly bodies.
her features are unbeknownst to us,
sheltered in the yawning gloom of the deepest shadows.
assembled around her
are the others,
her kin,
dreamers & thieves,
lawless & abiding,
trampled & torn.
one with blue-eyed constellations
wrapped around his wrist,
another reigns in the moon’s gift-given tides,
& one more can close her eye & stir up prophecies.
a new assemblage,
for a new world.
bring in the holy age,
my queens & kings,
for I do not dream to fail.


in acknowledgment of mosquitos

you hide away in the gloom of dusky shadows,
and never           once         did you think you would be loved.
and i do not love you,
but i acknowledge you.
for there you are, despised and vexatious,
but never           once         did you back off.
you keep coming back for more,
never     once    ceasing to pester and plague,
and suck
and be scorned.
there is something in that resilience —
valor, perhaps —
for the only thing to fear is
fear itself.
you get swatted and beaten down, harassed,
yet never           once         did you creep away.
you stayed with me,
and though i woke with welts creasing the surface of my
and though i curse your name when i scratch at your gift-given
and though i do not love you,
i acknowledge you.



our language

our language was the language of flowers:
a spiky acacia for friendship,
tufts of angelica for inspiration, and
bunches of saffron crocuses for mirth.
we gathered the blooms together in our arms and
let them cascade
past the lingerings of our imagination,
through thickets and thorns,
all the way back down to the earth.

I grew up in dirt, where you would teach me about:
blue violet for faithfulness,
white poplar for time, and
pansy for thoughts.
as you spoke of flowers, you spoke of dreams —
as if they were entities, as if
they too possessed stems and roots,
as if they blossomed for
harvesting happiness.

among peers I would share my thoughts on:
a single rose for simplicity,
olive for peace, and
mint for virtue.
for your wisdom had grown in me,
cultured from a seed you planted and
nurtured, watered every afternoon
with curiosity
and offered sunlight to every morning
with inspiration.
I told my companions of your lessons, but
they could not understand.

for our language was the language of flowers,
and it is all I can speak now, for you have taught me
a tenderhearted but futile dialect, that is
useless now you are gone.
for what is it to say to someone:
lotus for eloquence,
yellow jasmine for elegancy, and
juniper for protection?

I alone can speak in our
once-mother tongue, and
only to you.
but now I can say just two things:
red chrysanthemum,
for I love, and
for my regrets follow you to the grave.



Biographical Note: Isabella Ponce (she/her) is a Mexican-American writer currently attending UC Santa Barbara as an English major. She has previously been published in Sugar Pine Literary Magazine, as well as been on the editorial staff as chief editor. Her work can also be found in Issue 10 of the literary magazine Body Without Organs, published in December 2019. She has won a gold medal for her writing in the ACT-SO program (hosted by the NAACP), which she has gone to nationals in Detroit for. She hopes to continue pursuing creative writing in the future.