Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To the oracle at Delphi

How many times
have I said I love you?

How many times
was it true?

(you don't have the answer.)

Monday, April 21, 2014


It's basic survival instinct.
When they are hurt
beasts will still attempt a final attack

before bleeding to death.
But how would you know that
not being yourself a beast?


For the next few weeks
there is going to be
a trace of you
in everything I write.

you, who once owned my
uses of 'heart',
who once belonged on my
repetitions of 'love',

you will be found sitting
on top of the word 'blank'
or playing catch
around the letters in 'sad'

balancing on
exploring the depths of

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The naive juggler

A fire torch, an apple, my heart.
one after the other
the juggler tosses them up.

They revolve around him
at the same interval of my pulse.
A club, a serpent, a book.

He throws them behind his back,
he twines them around his neck,
one after the other

I watch them as they fall.
The things heaved into the air
sometimes are missed on their way down.

Sunday morning

A dragonfly crosses my window
while I brew coffee only half awake.

The dogs wait for the first sunrays,
my mother attends Mass.

All things are in their best places -
my name on two or three blacklists,

your hand on someone else's chest.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19

Gathered in the yard
the women of my family
told the wind their sorrows.

How little my angst sounded
compared to theirs,
how little we all looked

lying among the stars.
We washed our feet
in one another's tears

a promise upon our lips -
to dance around sadness
wearing brave hearts.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Because I can't sing you to sleep
I lull you with twenty something questions
and learn you in five hundred words.

There is a name for your first child
and an unknown favorite smell,
there is a lexeme I might never say.

There is an irrational fear of death
and a wish to live in a poem,
I write your soul a temporary shelter

I know you cannot stay.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The night before your birthday,
when the last quarter moon lights up in the sky,
I'll be standing outside in the dark on my tiptoes trying to
glue all of my wishes for you onto Thatcher's shooting stars.

That there are as many ways as there are hours,
that you're dear to my heart even lacking superpowers,
that you won't ever have to hide your tears,
that I will love you for many years.

That I'd let you win in musical chairs,
that I will still be there when no else cares,
that you are beautiful with all the scars,
that I will always hold you fondly in my arms -

I am forever wishing you the very best.

(Lyrids meteor shower peaks on Earth Day this year. The morning after, one of my favorite people on Earth celebrates his twenty-fifth birthday. This is just a silly something from my heart to his. I will love you for many years, you annoying little thing.)

Silver lining

I had a dream
I had your arms
around my waist
and I forgot who I was
for the four minutes
we danced to each other
simple, sweet chat
in quiet little steps
swaying around
our living room.

There was a song
none of us knew
the words for
and we laughed
and twirled
and there was love
one could read
on the other's touch,
the other's smiling eyes.
I didn't want to wake up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

At random

They claimed we were a pest,
therefore we had to be eradicated.

They came in the middle of the night
and stole us from our lives like thieves,

burning down the windows we had flagged,
a path of lights showing the way home.

They brought us close to the flames
We had our wings and eyes scorched.

One hundred fearful blind moths,
we fluttered away at random.

(One hundred schoolgirls have been abducted in Nigeria today. I pray they are returned to their families safely and soon.)

As if this was an argument I could not lose

This is the space between our arms
: nine hundred kilometers.
I write you poems made of the words
I wanted you to read like Braille
directly on my lips.

This is the house I live in
with walls painted yellow-absence.
Contrary to what many might think,
it is not easy to find
furniture to go with the dye.

This is my collection of screams.
There are as many as the days
I had to learn without your imaginings
and laughter and words
I would hear from no other soul.

This is a fold in time.
You tell me repeatedly
you cannot be mine.
I bravely hold my position in space
as if this was an argument
I could not lose.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

We've changed

You meditate.
I have tattoos.
We've changed.

You travel the world.
I write poetry.
We've changed.

You mail letters.
I don't answer.
We've changed.

You learned English.
I go out alone.
We've changed.

the memory of the last time
our hands touched -

this stays the same.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The walls of this house
don't talk about the tears
the women of the house
have cried.

moldy smiles,
broken hearts,
and chinked souls

are secrets
safely kept
under four layers
of flowered wallpaper.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Buried lakes

Water is discovered in Enceladus
at the same time my eyes run dry.

Dramatic plumes force their way out
through cracks in an icy crust

sitting over a sea of liquid water
at the moon's South pole

while tears are washed
down the open fractures of my orbits.

The amusement park when I was five

She let go of my hand
for a moment
to pay for toffee apples

and I drifted away,
my eyes chasing heights
in the Ferris Wheel.

For half an hour
I was an island
surrounded by

unfamiliar faces,
cotton candy,
vague noises

and colorful lights.

(Written for Cuyahoga County Library prompt for NaPoWrimo Day 6 and my own challenge over at the Imaginary Garden)

Saturday, April 5, 2014


(image from my personal work archive)

After drawing a smiling woman
dressed in brown 
standing on long sticky legs

she turns to me
with a question
because she's six

and apparently this
is something she
wasn't supposed to seek

but I'm a teacher
and I must know
everything there is

She raises an eyebrow and asks:
How long
does a grandma last?

To which I reply:
mine lasted up to eighty-eight
but that number will fluctuate

Mine lasted up to forty 
- she says, I guess.
No! Wait! Yes... yes.

The looking glass

One among seven billion people
when you're not trying to be
like everyone else.

Said the mirror.

They lack the reason to make wise choices

We were what we were
and it was somewhat wise
when wise was a way.

Will wisdom still work
in a weaponized world?

(A Tautogram written for Found Poetry Review Oulipost 5)
(Source article: Deconstructing the Philosophies of RoboCop, by Alva Nöe for NPR)

Friday, April 4, 2014

To Mr. Vatn in Trondheim

(image from my personal archive)

Dear Mr. Vatn
it's been seven years
you filled a bottle with
loneliness and assigned it
to the sea.

It's been 2,556 days
I, who live 265 miles
away from the coast,
am the keeper of
your abandon.

Dear Mr. Vatn
there are 2,375,444
inhabitants in my city
but I couldn't feel
more left out myself.

From my kitchen
after dinner,
before doing the dishes,
I send you my best wishes
and hope your life is good.

Dear Mr. Vatn
it's the year 2014 and
you are not on Facebook.
I hope you still
write letters.

(This is an original letter from a bottle found on the Northeastern coast of Brazil during summer vacation in 2007.)

The biggest lie

"She developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also -- either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as though it were a lie. If one is accused of a lie and it turns out to be the truth, there is a backlog that will last a long time and protect a number of untruths.” 

― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I wasn't thinking it.
you are right.
I will love you for life.
I'm grateful you crossed my way.

I understand your motives.
It's fine.
I'll tell you why.
I won't miss you when you go away.

I forgive you.
You're a good guy.
I'm not going to cry.
I'll think about you every day.

(Cuyahoga County Public Library has been sending writing prompts to my e-mail for the month of April, and this is my response to today's: write a 12-line poem in which each line is a lie. Other than the John Steinbeck's words about lying at the top, Hitler's ones also came immediately to my mind: "they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods." Adolph Hitler,  Mein Kampf)

No answer

a prayer
asking for 
the waiting not to 
be long, but he had no return.

(Found Poetry Review Oulipost 4 asked of us to write a Fib with a variation that was so hard to write I failed it, so I'm sticking to the regular Fib, couting syllables in honor of the math in the challenge.)

(Source article: The boy who jumped beyond, in The Hindu) 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I wasn't allowed

I required as proper
a thing of some kind
to manage to live
or to be real
without any person
other than implied,

but I didn't possess
a characteristic state
of living
to engage in it
existing in possibility.

(Definitional Lit for the Found Poetry Review Oulipost 3)

(Source article: When I met Jane Goodall, she hugged me like a chimp, by Henry Nicholls for The Guardian, on 3 April 2014.) 
(Source line: “I wanted to be alone, but I wasn’t allowed.”)

A murder of crows

To come across
a murder of crows
and sit among them
to watch a soul
gain wings
and leave this world
in a storm of cries.

If you care to
account them,
they are twenty-five
indistinct voices
mourning for
a piece of life that
can't be recovered.

To walk among them
having nothing more solid
than silence
to offer in sympathy
for the painful darkness
hanging in the gaping space
left behind.

(The Cardiff & Miller Gallery in Inhotim is home for the installation 'The Murder of Crows', one of the most remarkable sound experiences I've ever had. There are ninety-eight audio speakers mounted around the space on stands, chairs and the wall designed to create a wonderful work of physical sound to recreate the experience of being inside someone's head during a nightmare. It's hauntingly beautiful and a work that inspires me deeply. I've recently come across the entire thing on Sound Cloud, here is a link for the audio, but I do hope you have the opportunity to visit the installation if it comes to your area)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Your face
carved in a piece of wood.

My name
alone on a tree trunk.

This is what you exchange me for:
a final ride on the merry-go-round
before the amusement park leaves town.

Your head
on a hole on the ground.

My eyes
on a dying star.

This is what you exchange me for:
a definition of love the size
and endurance of a sugar cube.

Your ears
awake in the darkest nights.

My lips
in conversations with your absence.

Behind your resting eyes

I escape the poem while you sleep
and watch you from such small distance
that my chest nearly touches yours.

Who are you, bearer of my meanings?
Who am I when you move above the lines
on my palms and alters my destiny?

The world I know
vanishes, little by little,
behind your resting eyes.

Only if

If I were sure
he would  listen,

I'd tell him of how
when someone is open to love

the entire world
becomes responsive.

(Source newspaper title for letter exclusion: Bay Weekly

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


This man on the bus
wears a faded brown shirt,
a window seat
and a ponytail, 

but never a smile.

He checks 
my shoes,
my hands 
and tattoos,

but never my eyes.

This man on the bus
carries a doubt,
a subway ticket 
and a fault,

but never a cry.

He owns 
a picture frame,
a yard and
a name,

but never a heart.

Brains and beauty

It might appear,
The Game and Play of the Chess
is not fitting nor seemly thing for a woman.

We built it slowly over the years,
a cautionary tale for the future:
what's true for men lasts longer.

A Quote Cento for Found Poetry Review Oulipost 1
Source article: The women of Westeros