Two Poems by Joan Hanna

I Was Born Blue


pushing through a membrane

of ether slithering

through my blood by way

of a clamped and cut

umbilical connection, leaving me

gasping until my lungs

expanded on their own.

When I caught my first breath,

I had already, finally,

broken from her. But every new

inhalation was a false start.

I cannot extract her from myself

with mere breath as this

unrepentant bloodline

leads me only to my mother dying

with so much left undone.

With each breath, I cut

unsigned agreements but her

disapproval sutures my guilt

to the bloodline oozing

from my pores. My life has become

a fractured mirror dance

turning me again and again

to her face, sullen like mine. Her hands,

swollen like mine. Her eyes: mine.




They said dragonflies

sew up little girl’s

mouths if they talk

too much.

I pressed

my teeth into my lips

until I could feel

blood pumping

like a stubborn


They laughed

saying, you’re so stupid

I understood what they

really meant, but

wouldn’t open my mouth

until it flew away.


was the first stitch.




Joan Hanna
has published poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, book reviews and essays in various online and print journals. Hanna’s first poetry chapbook, Threads, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Both Threads and her second chapbook, The Miracle of Mercury, are available through Finishing Line Press. Hanna has previously served as Assistant Managing Editor for River Teeth, Assistant Editor, Nonfiction/Poetry for rkvry Quarterly Literary Journal, Managing Editor for Poets’ Quarterly and Senior Editor at Glassworks. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Ashland University in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Rowan University in New Jersey. You can follow her personal blog at Writing Through Quicksand:

The Miracle of Mercury is available at

Joan Hanna’s fidelity to the subjects of her poems—her ability to portray, in high resolution and with evocative power, the people and places that make up a passionate and compassionate life—is matched only by her talent for spinning lines and sentences that are always surprising, always sparkling with feeling and wit. Braiding the woof of personal experience to the warp of American public life, Hanna’s Threads offers a vivacious and enduring weave.

Peter Campion is Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota and author of Other People and The Lions.

Joan Hanna’s Threads weaves a tapestry of the everyday world and its rites of passages that each of us must pass through. But hers is a tapestry of deception, each thread made up of vivid images that resonate with Pound’s “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” and belie the ordinary with the perceptive and the careful heart.

Kathryn Winograd is the author of Air into Breath and Stepping Sideways Into Poetry.

is available at:


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