the poetry that matters

Nanette Rayman Rivera

Nanette Rayman Rivera, living in New York City and hating it, is a two-time Pushcart Nominee, and the author of the poetry collection, Project: Butterflies, published by Foothills Publishing, and the chapbook, alegrias, published by Lopside Press.  She is the first winner of the Glass Woman Prize for non-fiction.  Her poem Shoes, 1943 will appear in the Best of the Net Anthology – February 2008.  Publications include Dragonfire, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Prick of the Spindle, MiPOesias, The Worcester Review, Pedestal, The Pebble Lake Review, iddie, Carousel, Barnwood, Lily, ken *again, Farrago’s Wainscot, Arsenic Lobster, The Externalist, Wheelhouse, AntiMuse, Strirring, including Stirring’s Steamiest Six, Wicked Alice, Her Circle, Sein Und Werden, DMQ Review, Carve Magazine, Three Candles, Snow Monkey, Small Spiral Notebook, The Greensilk Journal – Editor’s Pick, Chantarelle’s Notebook – Featured Poet, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Tipton, Red River Review, Aoife’s Kiss, Words and Pictures, 5 Trope, Jack, Grasslimb and Mannequin Envy.  She is shopping her memoir around, a story about the ‘real” deal in regards to New York City’s homeless shelter, welfare, public housing, food stamp system.  The story no one will admit to.  She was Guest Editor for Moondance in December 2007.  She studied at The New School, Circle in the Square, Gene Frankel Studios and the New England Shakespeare Festival.  She played a waitress four times on All My Children, has performed in numerous black box theatres in New York City and Boston and is listed on imbd, Turner Classic Movies and Yahoo Movies for her roles in Stephan’s Silver Bell and Guns on the Clackamas.



Behind the walls painted acid trip white a silence

kindles the State magistrate in his rat-black robes

rat a tat foot steps scuffle outside the sketched door

the dry napes of her elbows striate her hair

the white air the rough draft

of the abyss, Nation’s rituals of all extinct women

the puff and the blister

of the long called for change

the long called for mediocre 

all envy humps quietly out of the kingdom



A minds-eye figure scurries loaded

down with headshots, Vargas shots, poems - black

lines the woman’s arms slinged as if they are broken

her plumlust fingernail polish removed

They might have told you “The sins of the father,

in your case, the mother”

her small translucent hosepipes circling

the jugular, routed to the heart

it’s horrid!, it’s needed

to measure utility and the pressure

you’re under to not be

a swan.  Those tubes are the swans

indivisible one nation under God





Ex Runner-Up Miss Massachusetts Denied Stamps


In a black swim suit (they all wore turquoise), in red molotov pumps, she applies for food

stamps, leaving the wolf of her body, hovering on the end

of herself.  Her husband writes her sash on her torso, implants her trophy

on the desk.  Her fish-out-of hour-glass perches across from the silly

putty mug of the worker.  Her husband rescues her from head

of the household, stranglehold questions from the burning

stares he saw disgust, teeth-click, teeth-click,

each answer’s own little weaponry in this cleansing

he burnt her sash.  She plied the flesh off the clerk

when he stamped Denied on her hips, stole other people’s food, stamped

her lycanthropic foot as they cried and each night drew the 15th floor

shades closed, like stripping

a bandage off sore skin.  I saw her breasts - they levitate

dripping into clouds, a doleful scream that balls

around hearts of other ravenous women like thin sweaters.

She ate the last olives in soy sauce, sat by the empty refrigerator,

while her husband praised the clerk’s madness as his life skidded

the kitchen in search of his wife whose beautiful face has blossomed

into fur he must love and cover, applied again submissively

for his own food, stamps, leans his head out of the 15th floor

window and implores the neighbor for breakfast.

They live in a city by a river and at the bottom of the river was another place

and only the denied (stamp) knew of its gate.  She formed a doll of the clerk. 

Each day different pins.  I see her again, pins in her ripe mouth,

pins in his eyes.  And from her eyes a light of wild oleander.

She dances with her husband in her sash and white nightgown,

answering questions, arguing with herself, laced in her husband’s pocket.

Her bones are my evidence, these bones in which she trips the light,

the bones are pretty inside her body, inside her sash her sash






in vain


The wound is 26 years old

and I am sitting in an upended shell

of an apartment, darned up

like an oyster.  The body knots below

sea level,  Sheepshank redemption—


Temples and larval eyes coiled

ropes older than subways, spleen blanched

in a vizard.   In the projects, cimmerian

smell of something dead or dying

parrots the waning of the moon, exactly.


Curses disturb the corridor.

How can I go on, deep-lung gasping?

Ayin hara is coming for my heap of bones.

Someone (my mother) never tied

a red bandel around my crib.  Someone

transcribed a prayer off beam, the mezuzah

must be checked.  Someone cries


against red graffiti thicket, rose

tubes,  and the woman catty

corner , eyes  the mezuzah and blasts

bass again, a joint in her  pruned beak.

At the ghetto divide I run

between low-panted

drug dealers.  One yells

a line from The Last Seduction:

you better run...

the others are dormant decadence

leaving destiny to turn

over an empty glass to pour him: out:


This should be easy, only -

empty glasses found in neat-nicked grass, clean

shudder in the air like souls unfinished on Sabbath eve,

the way travelers steal a piece of the village gate. 

Chance of a job fuzzy as the lit stench inside

garbage left in the hall, the wick inside a tornado,

the slide into some primeval beneath.








In a room full of pretty stolen sundresses, a woman speaks

of not being her mother’s daughter           her father’s secret

first wife, the transmission of her father’s loyalty

first hidden with rape-sharp panache in kitchen chats        the horror        

she knows at the sound of a mother’s fingers pinching arm

                at the shear Mom-scissors snipping hair                                        

in a room jam-packed with listeners        she sighs with the pant of a girl

who needs a valium break
leaves us alone in the fissure no surgeon can suture          leaves us
near child-guard bars on the window entirely open
doubting              if             borderline personality
verdict saves blame or lives

daddy-love’s vestal sheaf              whipped in widen            becomes to her a long
rubato irritant seeing home like eating dear-life for breakfast
tart at first but after, a comfortable internal clock

Truro, Cape Cod                the dunes               the self                  pollination

myself stored somewhere to be lifted      by a passing breeze

are these my eyes            shuttersensitive                                mucosa in my throat


exploding in non-orgasm of rooming houses                         mother's garbled voice

yelling through the camera of a cherrywood mirror


down yellow wallpaper.   If I gawp long enough I find


Someone whose dead hurricane


lantern dangles shorn as hair. 






homeless bird


From her mouth cries lace the moon,
and broken teeth, seven thousand pulverized
lungfuls of nerves, seven thousand more
locked perches and jaws bunged up with manzanita,
chewed cap ends, wood dowels slapped on

cage walls, two or three ribbonwood dry barks,
pretty grapevine’s eradicated yowl, rubble
of disinfected vines baking, swings, stand-

alone roosts and one thousand other keepsakes of home.
From her lips she feels only that long mandible hiss

of a blue-headed parrot wheezing in fright.


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