Julia Lisella

Winter Walk


 The ridge of snow overlays the last major yeah

escaped from out under my breath,

now just the deep of cold.

 On our walk the dog collapses in joy at the sniff of another dog

Circle squeal.

All night my hands

had twitched under covers, dried out

by the heart of heat we pump and burn,

a dump of oil on oil.

Universe consuming universe—our clamped up souls

have no choice.

The bird in the morning streams through the air,

a delight of brown wing flashing against blue

a tease flying from bare branch to bare branch,

dog half crazy with desire to hunt it down.

He, too, clamped, the leash a tangle between us.

Sidewalk indistinguishable from street,

walkways from porch stairs.

There is no way to go I tell him,

standing between dirty barricades of snow.

We slip in between the mess—my boots and his paws

churning together against small caves of salt, dirt,

black brown snow, frozen tire marks and bands of ice.

In morning light at least it’s all crystal.

And somehow we’re led back

to the center of the drift.


Long Distance


I’m listening to him

listen to me over the cell phone line


 a low shwoosh of small stories

meant to close a gap in time we’ll have

when I return. My voice a slow trickle

like rivulets of river water over small stones.

I watch a small bird in the underbrush

as I tell a story of our daughter’s phone call.

He says he is staring out the window of our kitchen

at our dog on our porch who is staring at a bird

in our backyard. He puts the phone

to the dog’s ear to see if he will recognize my voice.

He says the sound of me

does not recall me for the dog. I laugh.

He says mmmm which is different than hmmm.

I know it means

he’s listening.


Before it Seems Old Fashioned


Before it seems old fashioned

I want to say what it was like

to be a girl I want to say

it rose in us like comets do—

seen to be new and strange

but with us all along

the “it” the knowingness

of girlness shaping afternoons

in basements glimmering

through dust, fluorescent light,

dirty buckets, furnaces,

old tweedy furniture and dolls,

blackboards, out of tune pianos,

second best dishes, stores of

toilet paper and party plates.

Inside the dirty gleam we sang

girl scout songs or played Candyland

or games without a board. We’d dress

for evil deeds—raise our voices

sound stern in ways we’d never really heard

our backs straight, our walk a parade

of loose feet in old high heels


loosened from what we had to be

above the stairs where we’d eat quietly.

Below, light and air

were thin members of our party

and our brains squeezed the information

we’d received into bodies shaped

like hearts and flowers.

What budded there

now so out of tune with anything

a girl today would recognize–

the air of basements clean as second floors

and the word “cannot” a strange echo

from a distant land I lived in once

with women who recall it slightly

and tell of it

with an odd ambivalence and wonder.



Julia Lisella is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Always and Terrain(WordTech Editions) and the chapbook, Love Song Hiroshima (Finishing Line Press).  Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Antiphon, Ocean State Review, Literary Mama, Salamander, and many others. Julia is Associate Professor of English at Regis College.