Joan Annsfire


I have a loud clock
so I can hear time
disappearing by increments
I witness the night
as it repaints its portrait
in tiny mechanical movements
that mark life’s edge,

Aches of the past arise
intertwined with
the muddy smell of childhood,
once again fresh and deep
and full of danger.

All light has vanished
except for the hour, illuminated;
all sound diminished,
banished to an outland of dark distance,
framed by the low, hollow moan
of a train passing.

Raw, sharp early morning air
stings my skin,
flings me into a razor-edged future,
empty of promise
or mercy.

My eyes bleary and full as new bruises
threaten from the mirror
I rise and push into the day
pursued by relentless warriors
who refuse to allow
my surrender.

Inside the light rail car
I use all my weight to lean
against the motion,
struggle to keep heavy eyelids open,
my bed, recent scene of restless torture
looms like a rabidly, compelling monster
calling and calling
yet perpetually keeping me
from my dreams.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Joan Annsfire has lived in the Bay Area for more than thirty years and makes her home in Berkeley.

Her work has appeared in Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, Sinister Wisdom (many issues), SoMa Literary Review, 13th Moon, Bridges, Evergreen Chronicles, Lavender Review, and others. She also has been published in the following anthologies: "The Other side of the Postcard" edited by devorah major; “Queer Collection" edited by Gregory Kompes; "The Cancer Poetry Project Anthology" edited by Karin Miller; “The Venomed Kiss” edited by Anita M. Barnard and Michelle Rhea; and “Milk and Honey” edited by Julie Enszer.

Her short stories have appeared in read these lips; 4Play and the upcoming issue #5 (as yet untitled) edited by Evecho; and "Identity Envy" edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Van Buskirk.