Winter 2001


Grace Cavalieri


In the orphanage in Russia
the children are rocking, like failures,
the hours are rocking. The child lies torpid 

from listening to nothing.
No bird or breeze is permitted,
no road through his cloud. 

I ask : What will they do this day of their lives;
They stand hitting their chests against
the bars like voices aching. 

Tomorrow we dream of harmony and truth.
We pretend blossoms grow out jaws
from numbed faces. 

Each morning, blue eyes, close-cropped hair,
bleached stares. Each morning, death waits.
It is the only caretaker we can find. 


Grace Cavalieri


I walk two blocks to the past,
with its corridors, immense pillars,
straight narrow doors. I ask the man
what people lived here, all he could tell
was the name of the street.
Certain allegories confuse me -
the street is gone, yet remains,
a chaos of seeing.
Who can remember with me?
Who knew the old darkness, its perfection?
I want to walk the captivity of memory
toward a tree and a person as they
become one. Far porches are shades
and edges, all grief is central to this silence,
remembering what survives,
searching for someone in the spruces.


Grace Cavalieri


When I saw her
she was skinny,
singing the final time
in Washington, D.C. 

Backstage she drank a
quart of milk
mixed equal parts with
gin - Seagrams, she said. 

Then she got the idea.
Could I contact the gin
people so she could
advertise for them and
they'd like her for
drinking a full quart a day. 

I said, no, I didn't
think so, and I didn't
think the milk people
would like it so much
either. She felt bad 

about Elvis stealing
Hound Dog, even though
she was too much
a lady to say so. Once
she talked about it,
long ago, before she
started milk with gin,
a drink that left a
sweet taste in her mouth.


Grace Cavalieri is the author of 11 books of poetry and numerous plays. Her new play, Pinecrest Rest Haven will premiere in NYC, 2001. For 20 years she produced and hosted "The Poet and the Poem", weekly, for public radio and now broadcasts the series, once a year, from The Library of Congress.



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