Nicole Caruso Garcia

Two poems from Nicole Caruso Garcia’s Oxblood

followed by a note on the author


I sometimes wonder if I’m just a ghost:
When I’m alone, unbuttoning a cuff.
When daubing perfume on each perfect wrist.

When folding garments, each a hollow self.
A suicide: a box on patient intake
forms, a footnote to a headstone, stiff

and imprecise, an ill-fitting sack.
I run my lips across my wrists (kiss, kiss)
for proof I live. And if they’re not a trick,

a mockery, then I must confess
the love and decades I might not have had.
I tremble for a truer name for this,

this having risen from the neverdead.
I am whole, yet hyperventilate—
I am a could-have-cut, a would-have-bled.

I’ve housed the breath before you consummate
the carpe mortem, glittering with intent.
Resolve that sober can intoxicate.

Prostrate, I’d given angels my consent.
I’d chosen my finest dress, a lacy sheath,
as if to bandage sin in sacrament.

We label mostly in the aftermath.
We can’t quite throat a word that could contain
the moment that the apple felt Eve’s breath.

Some membrane torn already in my brain,
what hand had held me here against my will?
An object set in motion stays in motion.

The only word for that is miracle.
That, too, becomes a thing that you survive.
It changes you, the knowledge you would kill,

to occupy the hour at such an octave,
prayer so pure you’d call it blasphemous.
What simple word could show you where I live?

The whole transcends the parts I name with ease.
(The knife was aptly named: utility.)
I need a word to hold all this because

I did not fail; my name means victory.
And there’s a word for what he did to me.



I Never Fell in Love with You

To fall in love implies a lack of choice,
As if I were cartoonish, maladroit—
And love, an open manhole to avoid.

To fall suggests a kind of loftiness,
That I began in some exalted place
And not the aerie of my loneliness.

To fall like rain, or tears, or mercury,
A pawn of Cupid or of gravity.
No. With my grappling hook, I climbed precisely.

To fall—kerplunk—is stumbling, imperfection.
No, I would brave the hot tar of rejection
To wear the ermine cloak of your affection.

I built a trebuchet and aimed to sail
Beyond your moat, over your castle wall.
I launched, I soared in love; I did not fall.



Capacity first appeared in Antiphon; I Never Fell in Love with You first appeared in The Rotary Dial.

Nicole Caruso Garcia is an American poet and educator. Born in 1972 in New Jersey, she was raised there and in Connecticut where she now resides. Educated at Fairfield University, she holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies. After seven years in the corporate sector, she earned her M.S. in Education from the University of Bridgeport and taught English at Trumbull High School for 15 years. Garcia serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Able Muse and a Board member at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. A past winner of the Willow Review Award, her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, PANK, Plume, The Raintown Review, Rattle, RHINO, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. Visit her at