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Poems by Grace Cavalieri

HERE IS A POEM YOU CAN HIDE IN

When you come to wherever
failed hopes go, turn
here  instead,
where my child’s voice is heard
in the night, still damp from dreams.

Talk of sweet surrender against the  
 February snow, and then turn inward,
where silver trims the bitter limbs.

I’m not afraid to mention
precious aspirations, and
 all we know went wrong,

 I’m here with you,
under the same sun and same moon,
above darkness,
right here, the source of prayer,
right here in my hand.
 

Tiny Ants without Sorrow

Grace lives and writes in Annapolis, Maryland, by the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, which is coming back to life with new fish, new hope, new streams.
 
A string of tiny mites ,
thematic elements of nature,
climb the beach house wall.
What vibration causes them to stop, confer
with another line, then move on, we’ll never know.
Over and over like a prayer, they go.
These infinitesimal creatures, moving in unison, reach
another set of beings, freeze, then begin again. 
Protean intelligence with an elegant sense of balance,
—with sensibility unfailingly sure of its path—
They do not have wounds too deep for anger.
They do not need to elevate the struggle.
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: CANARY
 

The Third Heart

The first heart is made of self,
A spirit you brought with you and
Stays after you leave.
The other heart is flesh and blood,
The person you always wanted to know.
But the heart l love best is where
The two meet, overlap,
Forming a tiny center.
A heartbeat that can be heard.
If you cannot listen, who will?
And if you can find safety,
Within these sounds,
There is nothing outside you will need.
 

LEARNING FROM BUDDHA

The cat likes to lick
a piece of butter
at the end of a knife
propped up by the window
so he can watch the birds
today I forgot the butter and the knife
he didn’t care
he knows
some days
there are no birds.
 

Haberdashery

I wish I hadn’t made fun of him that day at Union Station when he walked away from the tie rack with the same green and blue striped tie he had in his closet at home. Green and blue slanted stripes. “You have one” I laughed. He said maybe the stripes are wider on the other one. I proved I was right. They were identical. I proved it. “Why have two exactly alike?” Because I like that tie, he said. I always liked this tie.  Then I recalled when I was 17 and  his mother took the hat right off my head. She liked it. Actually my father did this when she said isn’t that adorable. He took it right off my head and handed it to her. I never found another. None of this is what I want to talk about. This second, I want to show you the way the sun lights up the tree, such a funny slice of light it couldn’t be made by design, the way it hits the angle of green. There will never be another moment like it.

Three O'clock, 1942

Elaine’s father was a guard at the Trenton State Penitentiary.
Once in awhile, I forget how often,
she couldn’t come out to play
because it was her daddy’s turn to pull the switch,
and watch a prisoner die.
He’d stay inside feeling sick, but why the family
had to close the shades, I don’t know, or
why, even if we knocked politely, her mother
sent us away, saying “ Elaine can’t come out today.”
The rest of us little girls sat on my porch
In cool dresses. Three O’clock.
Mothers were in the kitchen setting spoons.
There were iced drinks and cookies,
powdered sugar, a confection of air;
not even fathers were coming home to break the silence.
The only sound is a boy on the tracks nearby
Who’s caught a small animal and tramps through the weeds
carrying a cardboard cage, three holes for air.
The girls ask whose turn it is to make up a story.
We visit bright imagined countries and
in this way travel beyond swinging chairs,
white railings, a summer porch.
At Three O’Clock God mutes the trees
to listen. The only sound is a thrashing –
the biting and scratching as the boy falls –
the rustling and scrambling
of a small animal breaking free.

 

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