poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Grace Cavalieri



Because he couldn’t remember every word
His students said, he had to be put away with
Patches of hot on his cheeks, well as for me
I’d rather be singing with a group. Probably
Because I was a deaf mute in my last life
And that is why everything I think now
Pops right out of my mouth and why
I am always anxious to write
Even pulling
Tampax out of my purse at important meetings
Thinking I’ve got a pen, but as for going
Crazy? Well I’d rather be thin. Don’t get me
Wrong, I love the past as much as anybody,
.....................................for your sake
Like my mind, well would you,
Asking the trees to come inside
Playing lyrics to the song over and over
Hoping someone will get the message
I had to save myself
And I do not say now what I said before
I wanted to feel something for you but
Although right at this moment even as I speak
I wish we were in Panama
Hollering for our food to be served up
And that we could begin again
This time with music
I’ve never been ashamed of anything I’ve done
To anyone except myself and now I am
Without need of strangers and by this
I am telling you who I am
I’ve known each of you my whole life and
Yet everytime we meet the gate is
Opening a different way
But when I figure it out
We pass through, we all pass through.
I admit it, it is beautiful and true—
But pain?
I’m not built for it
.....................................Anyway Friends
Don’t drink tea that is bitter
And if someone denies everything you stand for
Give him a gun that will never go off. Put
An American flag on the back of your car and
Tell them about me, that I was no easy lady
More like an old dog, chasing a bird in a
Moment of sun who leaves now for good saying
Isn’t it a beautiful Autumn.
If these are my tears, I can do what I want
.....................................with them.




Grace Cavalieri was a Senior Program Officer/Media at the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1982-1988 in charge of children’s programming. She was at corporate PBS from 1978-1982 as Associate Director of children’s programming and education, in charge of the daytime schedule. Previously she taught at Antioch College from 1970-75 (the inspiration for this poem). Her latest publication is a novella in verse, Millie’s Sunshine Tiki Villas (2011, Casa Menendez). She now celebrates 35 years on-air with “The Poet and the Poem” recorded at the Library of Congress for public radio. Her new play Anna Nicole: Blonde Glory opened in NYC in 2011. Her play Quilting the Sun opened in South Carolina in 2011. Grace is married to metal sculptor, Kenneth C. Flynn. They have four children and four grandchildren.


Published in Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 2012.


To read more by this author:
Grace Cavalieri
Cavalieri's Intro to Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 2004)
Cavalieri on Roland Flint: Memorial Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Whitman Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Wartime Issue
Grace Cavalieri on Louise Glück: Profiles Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Evolving City Issue
Grace Cavalieri: Split This Rock Issue
Cavalieri on Ann Darr: Forebears Issue
Grace 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 on Ahmos Zu-Bolton II: Poetic Ancestors Issue