A Search with Words

“His walking stick stands in my cupboard…”

Rajani Radhakrishnan is one of my favorite poets.  This prose poem was published today in The Quiet Letter.  Read more of Rajani’s stunning work on her site ThotPurge.


The idiom of childhood seeps into this borrowed lexicon, like the leaky roof drawing patches on the wall smelling of another rain, smelling of grandfather’s only black coat that he wore like a second skin;

When it hung on the nail behind the door, he was shrunken, diminished, swallowed by loud kitchen voices, rambunctious brass and copper pots, their warm bottoms patterned with soot;

His walking stick stands in my cupboard, older than me, than him, head bent in a way his never was, even the night by grandma’s body, preparing her, preparing himself;

I search for him with words in a language he never spoke, that can state he laughed out loud watching cartoons with me that last summer, but cannot translate the way his whole body shook, the way the sea trickled out of one eye, his face contorted into something that I now call joy.


Rajani Radhakrishnan is a poet from Bangalore, India.  Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post.


Those dream-filled summer nights,
a wail, anguished as a banshee,
pierced the rusty screen.
Then the rhythmic clatter grew
until the bed and I would tremble.

Let me come too, I whispered,
but it never heard,
or didn’t understand,
or didn’t care about a little girl
and a gallant torn-eared bear.

The rumbling, shaking wraith
moved on, its cry waning to an echo,
my heartbeat clinging to the cadence
of away from here, away from
here, away

– Sarah Russell
First published in Black Poppy Review
Photo courtesy of Awsom Wallpapers

Someone else’s mother speaks to me for the first time

“. . .asteroid children fizzed about the hall. . .”

Few of us can capture a child’s reticence and awe like Robert Ford has in this poem about a kindergarten encounter.  You can find more great poems and learn more about this poet who lives in Scotland on his blog, Weezlehead.


It wasn’t quite my first day there, and while I sat at the safety

of a long wooden table, a mile-wide belt of asteroid children

fizzed about the hall, high on screams and random collisions,

pounding its feet on a sprung floor all glassy with new varnish.

Her long-fingered hands were working the grown-up scissors,

the chafing of the blades against each other making that noise

I still don’t know the word for. You’re very patient, she told me,

freeing me from my cosmic reveries like one of the starfish

she was busily fashioning from a stack of coloured card.

 – Robert Ford
First published in Red Eft Review

Tia Lucia Enters the Nursing Home

“…She is reduced to another being.”

I love this poem not only for the humanity it shows, but also for its many layers of meaning.  Deborah Paradez teaches at Columbia University.  You can read more about her and more of her poetry here.

All morning my daughter pleading, outside
outside. By noon I kneel to button her
coat, tie the scarf to keep her hood in place.
This is her first snow so she strains against
the ritual, spooked silent then whining,
restless under each buffeting layer,
uncertain how to settle into this
leashing. I manage at last to tunnel
her hands into mittens and she barks and
won’t stop barking, her hands suddenly paws.
She is reduced to another being,
barking, barking all day in these restraints.
For days after, she howls into her hands,
the only way she tells me she wants out.

– Deborah Paredez
First published in Poetry Magazine