the next field over

unlike borders, etched in the earth                                             with a knife, headlines are often written

delicate; a fuse, a blast, a city that was                                       and they soften the blow in a language

today’s dead never spoke.                                                              i am reminded words always translate

when buried in the earth                                                   and carry my eye along a path to meet a barn

that’s battered only by wind.                                              in town, no one mentions bombs in homilies

or at the market. what’s the price                                       of the melon? what, when fields floorboards

hands shake? war is only happening                                                               when it’s happening to us

a potter says turning clay from the river                                        into something to press to your lips.

god is like this, i think, an idea you shape                                               in your hands. so i go and dig–

to plant what might feed, to try and outplay                                       a man with a trigger playing god.

in an etch of grass and far from the smoke,                     this land, holding me safe, is just dumb luck

i did nothing to deserve.                                                             it’s the afternoon now and the newscycle

has moved on like it does                                                              to a prehistoric plant that’s still kicking

somewhere between when we ask                                     for forgiveness and where we keep the graves.

nicole v basta

NICOLE V BASTA’s chapbook ‘V’ was chosen by Rigoberto González as the winner of The New School’s Annual Contest. Recent work appears or is forth- coming in The Shallow Ends, SWWIM, Ninth Letter, Nat. Brut, Pinwheel, New South, etc. Find her hologram at

Contributions by nicole v basta