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Joanne M. Clarkson

Joanne M. Clarkson’s poetry collection, The Fates won Bright Hill Press annual contest and was published in 2017.  Her chapbook, Believing the Body, from Gribble Press came out in 2014. Her poems have been published in such journals as Nimrod, American Journal of Nursing, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review and others. Taught by her grandmother, a professional psychic, Clarkson has read playing cards and Tarot for inspiration all her life. See more at

Blue Bicycle Fortune Deck

For Esther
Her cards were pedaled by blue angels.
They rode in the womb of her pocket.
Her cards mocked luck, thumb-worn.
Her cards slept on kitchen shelves and smelled
of onions and ginger.
The angel on the bicycle was naked.
Her cards seldom fell in love and when they did
they came with a warning.
Her cards were bartered from gypsies.
Her cards wore overalls not suits.
Her cards were hers the way a cat chooses its own.
Her cards fell into place with an old song
that didn’t quite rhyme.
She preferred sevens and nines.
Spades had the mind of the devil.
Her cards could not cheat, bent corners
healed by morning.
Her cards ignited dreams.
Truth to her cards was a matter of aces.
Her cards could not be stolen
even by her sisters.
The nine of cups was her wish card.
The court cards were real people,
most of them poor.
Her cards were cut by the left hand.
Her cards were born carrying messages.
The night she died they disappeared
leaving a few blue feathers
caught in the spokes of the world.
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