Grace Cavalieri



Whenever one said if you give me this
I'll give you that.

The other said how can I give you that
until you give me this...

I want you to give me something to prove
you love me. That reminds me

I hate it when you say that's a good point.
Oh yes I see. That's a good point.

Just as the Japanese bow before they
take out their swords so did these move to embrace.

There was a fang growing out of the heart like
a tooth. I can't remember which one,

and when they hugged, it pierced them twice
but don't bother about this--

just words--and what words are worth our feelings
anyway, or theirs for that matter.

Mark Rooney
72" x 42", mixed media on paper
more of Mark Rooney's artwork




I slept under the electric blanket
with the dial up HIGH

before I ate some fried chicken with the skin on
Sitting next to someone smoking a cigarette

after I petted a strange dog
instead of flossing my teeth

deciding to eat real ice cream instead of yogurt
on my drive downtown without my bullet proof vest

to kiss a stranger right on the lips
without washing my hands afterwards.



If you use your time well, you wan't want it
to come back, the psychologist said--talking about systems of thought,
legal systems, educational systems, marriage systems. The mystic said
"In the true sublime a sharp consciousness
of inadequacy is required..." The social worker says many people die of
disappointment. It's a matter of record. Luck came their way today.
There wouldn't be a speaker. They could put on a play. Quick. Everyone
into the costume room. A tableau. Today they could make a tableau. Mr. P
chose Gobbels. Mrs.--Eva Braun. They called it "a look into the 20th century."
No one guessed who they were. Who cared for the stony hearts of the
unimaginative. The theater was for those still alive in its broth.
Rummaging in the trunk they found some old wedding clothes.
How beautiful to find them again. The victrola played. I'LL BE SEEING YOU
(in all the old familiar places). A stopped up stomach was just stopped up
words. And all books and stories are just about
what is lost and what is found. Nothing more. Love, not lost now between them--
It flowed like the sunset reflected in the dinner knife.



Cover up, all the time, cover up.
Mr. P was always covering up. When he needed a piece
of paper to write on he tore the top off the window shade,
and then had to hide the bottom. But where? And how about
the time he was cutting the plug off the vacuum cleaner
in the hall and had to stop midway because
someone was coming. He was only trying to invent electricity.
He forgot to tell them it was halfway off. Mrs. P
was real nice to him because she didn't show
people what he did, or where. Then again, she
just may be trying
to get more flies with honey than vinegar
but where's she going to find all those
flies, he worried.



Mr. P decided to announce
their engagement. Some people clapped. Some
woke up. The accordian man played "Honey"
("It's funny but it's true," went the words).
Wouldn't it be fun to have that built into
the automatic song box, so
when someone stepped on the grass, it'd start
playing "Loved you from the start, Honey...
Bless your little heart, Honey...
Everyday would be so sunny, Honey, with you.
He'd do it for her so even if she was underneath
the ground, she'd hear and think of him. And
no one else! He felt young and alive with possibility.



Grace Cavalieri is the author of eleven books of poetry and numerous produced plays. Her most recent books are Sit Down, Says Love (Argonne Hotel Press) and Pine Crest Rest Haven (The Word Works). She's written texts and lyrics performed for opera, stage, and film. Her new play, "Pinecrest Rest Haven," will be produced in NYC in 2001. Grace teaches poetry workshops throughout the country and at the Tuscany Arts Retreat in Italy, sponsored ny The Word Works. She is on the poetry faculty of St. Mary's College of Southern Maryland. Grace produced and hosted "The Poet and the Poem," weekly, on public radio (1977-1997) presenting 2,000 poets to the nation. She now produces this series once a year from the Library of Congress via NPR satellite. Grace has received the Pen-Fiction Award, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Medal, and awards from the National Commission on Working Women, the WV Commisson on Women, The American Association of University Women, plus others. She received the inaugural Columbia Merit Award for "significant contribution to poetry." She has enjoyed the kindness of many writing fellowships. Grace lives with her husband, sculptor Kenneth Flynn. They have four grown daughters.

Published in Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2001.


Read more by this author:
Grace Cavalieri's Intro to Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 2004)
Cavalieri on Roland Flint: Memorial Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Whitman Issue

Grace Cavalieri: Wartime Issue
Cavalieri on Louise Gluck: Profiles Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Evolving City Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Split This Rock Issue
Cavalieri on Ann Darr: Forebears Issue
Cavalieri on Joseph Brodsky: US Poets Laureate Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Tenth Anniversary Issue

Grace Cavalieri on "The Poet & The Poem": Literary Organizations Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Poets in Federal Government Issue
Grace Cavalieri on Ahmos Zu-Bolton II: Poetic Ancestors Issue