No Children

By Ivy Raff

Mesilla, New Mexico


Empty basilica, wood slat
walls, white Jesus expressionless. 

Blue eyes and blue eyes and blue
eyes and more inaccuracies

in the courtyard. A plaque:
In Memory of the Unborn –

We Will Not Forget the Victims
of Abortion. I remember the plastic

sample cup, the doctor’s hands,
the white dot narrower than

my pinkie nail, bubbly, slightly,
like mud after rain. Victimless

except me, In Memory of Something
That Was Nothing except me, me

begging that man to use a condom
and his silent, smirking refusal.

But who cares about that anyway,
let the Catholic Church etch

a plaque and drop it on stones
in the desert.


Parque de la Cura Ramón Ortiz. Separated
from el Calle Principal by one block and one
extinct, ash-smothered arroyo. Silent but
for the sparrows and the hooting of whitewing
doves, an engine turning in the breezed-over
distance. No children fill the sun-faded jungle
gym, no children creak the see-saw. No children
shriek on swoop-backed pelican-seats. No children
ride the stallion with his black paint-hair
heat-rotted off. The horse and the pelicans guard
the nothingness, dead sentinels still on the clock.
The basketball nets motionless, the blue picnic
tables dulled over with dust. The slide longs
to melt, the monkey bars droop in the air.


Yesterday in Uvalde, Texas a man with a gun killed nineteen babies and two
schoolteachers. Spare yourself the photos of the children. Bespectacled or chubby
cheeked. Thumbs tucked in taut backpack straps. Vamping before birthday cakes.
Rosary-draped, tee-shirted, arch-browed, friendship bracelet-stacked, satin-bowed
on wela’s lap, ponytailed under tía’s arm, half-wrapped in sister’s graduation gown
and beaming.


Blackbird slices sky.
A man rolls by on a bicycle and cranes
his neck in my direction, cocks
an eyebrow as if I am lost. I am and I
have been. We are and we have been.

Headshot of Ivy Raff

Ivy Raff’s debut chapbook, Rooted and Reduced to Dust (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming 2024), was hailed by Jimmy Santiago Baca as “sensuous, glowing with an undercarriage of mystique.” Recent honors include placing as a finalist for the Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Award, Wolverhampton Literature Festival Poetry Competition, Tucson Festival of Books Literature Awards, Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Prize, and the 53rd New Millennium Writing Awards. Ivy’s poetry appears in The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International Journal, and West Trade Review, among numerous others, and is anthologized in Spectrum: Poetry Celebrating Identity. Currently nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, Ivy’s work has garnered scholarship support from the Colgate Writers’ Conference as well as residencies with Atlantic Center for the Arts and Alaska State Parks. She is a co-founder of Make Your Medicine, a small collective of changemakers who support culture shifts toward diverse workplaces. She lives, hikes, and bakes artisan challah in Northern New Jersey.

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