Selected Poems | nicole v basta

i watch videos from the 80’s
after you tell me we should just be friends

if you were lonely
you could watch the tiny curls
being sewn onto a baby doll’s head
on youtube

sterile gloved hands spiral the hair
spinning and giving in to its orbit

it looks like violence

the fat needles that pierce plastic skulls
to give a little girl something to brush

but that’s just the way it was before
now                    no one cradles the head

i bet the cold metal of machine
doesn’t flinch

we continue to build what can replace us

saint mary’s of the maternity

i pull the polish phrases from the rafters
and take them into my mouth

they’re painted in white like the wafer
but they don’t dissolve when i mix them with spit

if you keep communion still on your tongue
it behaves how a dandelion would if you didn’t blow it away
something that foreign might taste familiar

the symbols up above me are signs
in an airport when i can’t find my gate

the polish alphabet has six more letters than english
just the usual suspects gussied-up in hats and tails

i wonder why they’re so overdressed
my lips purse and my teeth bite to try the sounds

but i can’t even answer the priest
when he says may the lord be with you

and i never learned how my ancestors said goodbye
only dzień dobry – good day – and jak sie masz – how are you?

i liked you in theory 

that plastic bag tree just ruffled its feathers

you didn’t notice

a styrofoam peanut tumbleweed

you didn’t see it

i tell you gemini rising 

and you scoff

at my dressed-up stars

the word obsidian doesn’t get you off

the way it does me

hot lava

smooth glass aftermath

babe, if you were a dashboard ornament

you’d be a raccoon

masked eyes that never stop shaking                 no

you can at least try to match my pitch

they always say people change or is it that they don’t?

i can never keep them straight

nicole v basta is the winner of the 2016 New School Chapbook Contest for her chapbook V and is the co-founder of the Brooklyn-based art collective/performance night Say Yes. She was an artist in residence at Art Farm in Nebraska this past October and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Forth, Public Pool, Canary, The Underground, Blunderbuss, and others.