Two poems by Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Non Minoris Aestimo me

As I apply my mascara, I tell you—
I have always been the oracle.
I don’t need to hold your palm,
read your love lines. I am more
than a fortune teller on the side
of sagebrushed highway.

I know how you rage in your dreams—
destroy brick walls, cut your knuckles
so deep you taste metal from the spray.

You are safe here in the valley.
You have found the lotusland,
feast on sweet honeysuckle—
there is still an oasis in this desert.


Dreams in the Wasteland

Roadside diner in the desert,
serving up everything, but salvation.
It’s easy to end up plastered in the torn
leather booths, writing hymns on napkins—
drinking the newest version of Jim Jones Kool-Aid.
Everyone is a prophet these days,
when the apocalypse is a promise ring.
Here is the plot-twist: you’re already in purgatory.

The local beauty queen knows leaving is important—
knows you can’t keep returning to the same place
expecting a different story, especially when casting
the same characters. She’ll ditch her sash and crown,
expertly apply a fresh coat of magenta lipstick
as she kisses the what ifs of yesterday goodbye
in the rearview mirror. Everyone expects her
to become the prodigal daughter, but she’ll never
return to small town-fishbowl life, it’s not for your
viewing pleasure; she’s not an Instagram reality star.

She will send postcards from paradise,
no return address, let them think she’s living
in hell where the palm trees are burning. She’s curled
up on her crushed red velvet couch, with her faux fur
blanket, popcorn, and 3D glasses. She’s the nostalgia dream,
making it another Blockbuster night—away from neighbors
with a thousand eyes. Maybe one day she will fade into oblivion.


Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, ArLiJo, Pink Plastic House, Sledgehammer Lit, Analogies & Allegories Literary Magazine. Her second chapbook, “When Goddesses Wake,” was released in December, 2021 from Maverick Duck Press. Her first full-length collection, “Allison,” was recently published by Querencia Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris. To check out more of her work go to


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