“Ghazal for Girl”

when my mother says I am a universe in the shape of a girl
it is to say I inherit her chemical tears        a moon-sad girl

star-blossoms sprout from my eyes        perfumed black holes
I swallow dark matter        sweet buds for a pill-fed girl

sparrows linger outside on wires        I mimic dusky chirps
until flesh turns to feather        warble the dirge of a ragged girl

I tap my beak against windows glued shut        inky breath
of poisonspeak on glass        I ask what in your life is so bad, girl?

men without faces scribble on pads        write me
as nothing more than a sweetling        drugged & tagged girl

I dream in fractured color        rave through meadows electric
dance frenzied across the smoky grass        a maenad girl

crushing through moss & mushroom        hazy pearl overhead
with secret warm of smuggled wishes I wail        heart-mad girl

o mother        how to roam free?        I flail unkempt
claw impatient at my throat as would a hanged girl


Josephine ‘Ina’ Cariño’s work has appeared in such journals as New American Fiction (New Rivers Press), One (Jacar Press), and december Magazine, among others. Her poem ‘Feast’ won the inaugural 2018 Sundress Publications broadside contest. Influenced by the natural backdrop of her childhood home in the mountains of the Philippines, Ina draws on both nature imagery and folklore in her work. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC, where she is a candidate for an MFA in creative writing at North Carolina State University.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will never be published or shared and required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.