Monica A. Hand

Six Poems


Seedless sticky fig
It tastes of dirt and sugar
Licked from my fingers



I never thought of my mother as beautiful
Until I saw her wedding picture
There she stood next to my father–celestial
Like first choir on communion Sunday
White dress
White smile
White lace

The mother I knew–eclipsed
As if the secret ritual of marriage and family
Were a scarification ceremony

The mother I knew
Vacant eyes in negative space

I’d watch her
Starch, spit and steam my father’s white shirts
Hot iron barking and biting her skin
Always careful not to let the bumpy black residue of the iron
Soil his shirts

The skin of the woman in the wedding photograph–untouched
No tiny welt-like marks on her arms
No keloids on her lips and cheeks
No rippling river across her belly
No grease splattering stains on her hands
No birthmarks the shape of iron burns
In plain sight


Crossing Gilo

The lost boys of Sudan don’t know how old they are
Or why they survive war, bandits, lions, crocodiles, starvation and thirst
The lost boys of Sudan don’t know why they run and scream in fear
They just know escalators are dangerous animals
And America is covered in ice and darkness
And black boys–black boys–still get shot
The lost boys of Sudan don’t know what luck they have
They just know to eat with caution
The baked beans and scrambled eggs and cornflakes
And remember America is not their home
And there are no foxholes outside these doors



Good Friday morning
Spring trees the color of limes
Bitter sweet rain falls



Fog veils the roadway the old people speak of
When you are born with a sack still over your eyes,
it is believed you will have the ability to see what is hidden
This notion, that behind the scrim is something that should be seen,
if the light comes from the opposite direction.
So you shine your head lights into the fog, continue down the road,
to the other side where the old people wait, looking for your vision.


Four Dead in Prince George’s Shootings

The police said it didn’t appear that the three deaths were related
or that any of the men knew each other

It happened late on a Sunday

Months later one dead boy’s picture still rests on the piano
Stuffed animals, dry flowers
Flake dust like old skin onto the carpet

A girl–sabotaged by a song or changing light of day–gets caught in randomness
Falls silently into quiet

The police have no suspects

I am afraid to put away the things
So I let her go

Three-winged butterfly wrapped in school paper
Caught in an unforgiving wind
Worm like body still full of baby fat

Dead of gunshot wounds to the upper body


Originally published in Vol. 4:3, Summer 2003.



Monica A. Hand (November 24, 1953 - December 16, 2016) is the author of two books of poems, me and Nina (2012), and The DiVida Poems (posthumous, 2018). After a career of over 30 years with the postal service, Hand enrolled at the University of Missouri, where she was working toward a PhD in Creative Writing at the time of her death at age 62. Hand was included in such anthologies as Beyond the Frontier and Gathering Ground. A Cave Canem alumni, she won the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award, and founded Poetry Slam Academy, an in-school youth performance organization. She was the mother of two, and grandmother of two. To read more by this author: Two Poems, It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Vol. 10:2, Spring 2009.