Origin Stories – Julie Weiss

Origin Stories for May
Poem Written in the Eight Seconds I Lost Sight of My Children

    Poem Written in the Eight Seconds I Lost Sight of My Children
    by Julie Weiss

    Listen, the rain is slicing limbs 
    off the sky´s body. The body
    is being dragged under a carpet

    of reflections. The air swells
    with last breaths. With the sour 
    aftertaste of goodbyes. Today

    is as good a day as any to brandish 
    my big bad wolf. Being a mother
    is not writing about flowers in spring

    because where would I plant
    the nightmares? You´re like grains
    of pollen, sweet enough to settle 

    on the petals of a pretty smile
    so I go straight to the fang 
    of the matter. Which is to say,

    death is scrawled across our days
    in a thousand different languages.
    Its tales unfold in the hieroglyphics 

    of dreams. In one, a girl I once knew
    vanishes perpetually into the jaws 
    of an afternoon stroll. 

    When is the right time to unearth
    the generation of faces immortalized
    on milk cartons, before or after

    you chase a sparrow around the corner
    of a building? On school mornings
    I squeeze you close as we pass

    a stranger walking his dog. I´ve spent
    a lifetime measuring the amount
    of venom laced in people´s greetings.

    It doesn´t matter that I´ve invented
    a rainstorm to flood the street
    out of your line of vision. 

    Just for today, these walls I´ve raised
    will keep at bay the ghost children
    who never found their way home. 

    **First published in Orange Blossom Review

Origin Stories – Poem Written in the Eight Seconds I Lost Sight of My Children

This poem was born out of a deep-seated fear, which surfaced as a teenager, when friend and fellow figure skater, Ilene Misheloff, was abducted on her walk home from school, never to be seen again. When she disappeared, she was dressed in a “twin” outfit, which, a week earlier, we´d both donned, inadvertently, to the cinema. As a mother of two young children, abduction is my greatest fear, and in that regard, I´m more alert to my surroundings and a hundred times more overprotective than the parents around me. As a poet, I can´t stop writing abduction poems, and this is just one of a handful I´ve penned since returning to poetry in 2018. Eerily, Ilene disappeared on January 30th, my daughter´s birthday. Thirty-four years later, her case is still open. 


Julie Weiss (she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. Her poem “Poem Written in the Eight Seconds I Lost Sight of My Children” was selected as a finalist for Sundress´s 2023 Best of the Net Anthology. She won Sheila-Na-Gig´s Editor´s Choice Award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite´s 2021 Microchap Series. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work appears in Gyroscope Review, Rust + Moth, ONE ART, Sky Island Journal, Orange Blossom Review, and MacQueen´s Quinterly, among others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.

Twitter: @colourofpoetry

Instagram: @colourofpoetry919

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Now Available

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

April 15 – Martha Bordwell

April 16 – Anastasia Walker

April 17 – Annette Sisson

April 18 – Shaheen Dil

April 19 – Claudia Reder

April 20 – Cathy Thwing

April 21 – Sarah Snyder

April 22 – Susan Barry-Schultz

April 23 – Laurie Kuntz

April 24 – Maryann Hurtt

April 25 – Yvonne Zipter

April 26 – Jess Parker

April 27thKelly Sargent

April 28thRobbi Nester

April 29thLaurie Rosen

April 30thJames Penha

May 1stOisin Breen

May 2ndJennifer Shomburg Kanke

May 3rdKaren Paul Holmes

May 4thJudy Kronenfeld

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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