Grace Cavalieri

A Ghazal of Geese


I knew a woman who drove across country, and wrote down every meal

she ate three times a day to send to me. I've never felt so loved.


My husband produced divorce papers, and then he held me in his arms,

I knew he was preparing me for widowhood. I've never felt so sad.


Although I hadn't noticed the number on the door, I entered the right flat,

they were singing and dancing as if I'd never left. I've never felt so alone.


The old man said he learned to play songs on a guitar by listening to the radio,

then he sang to me "My Kleating Heart." I've never felt so touched.


The sun spread out its ghazal of geese across the horizon flying without

rhyming, yet spelling out A Ghazal of Grace. I've never felt so happy.

(The Ghazal is a minimum of five couplets structurally, thematically, emotionally autonomous, followed by a refrain, The final couplet contains the author's name.)


Everything Is Smaller Than The Truth


Knowing the worst,

I still try to learn the way of sleep


while the night  pressing down on me

holds its basket of dreams


out of reach. I have

taken loss into account, yet


the border of my skin grows thin

with the white of sheet and the


slivers of light under the door

tying my wish to the moon.


It does no good,

the canopy of thought is darker


is stronger than

prayer keeping time to the beat of my heart.


Now it is dawn. What language is this

with its different group of birds


telling me the day, with its terrible truth,

is going on before me.

Lost Poem: A Cento


beside me in the garden

the white chocolate jar full of petals

and by the weak wash of crimson

or any color

that no one any longer wants to see

out of my mind the golden ointment rained

and floating above me stars as violent

down from another planet that have settled to mend

I do not think they will sing to me

and reap some happy rewards. But look at the birds.

  1. James Schuyler, "Korean Mums"
  2. Frank O'Hara, "Chez Jane"
  3. William Carlos Williams, "The River of Heaven"
  4. Thoman Sayers Ellis, "Or"
  5. Elinor Wilner, "Magnificat"
  6. Wallace Stevens, "Tea at The Palaz of Hoon"
  7. P.K. Page, "My Chosen Landscape"
  8. Josephine Miles, "The Hampton Institute Album"
  9. T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
  10. Rachel Wetzsteon, "On Leaving The Bachelorette Brunch"

Grace Cavalieri's newest publication is a chapbook, Gotta Go Now (Casa Menendez, 2012).  She's the author of 16 books and chapbooks of poetry, as well as 28 produced plays, short-form and full-length. Her recent books—Millie's Tiki Villas, Sounds Like Something I Would Say and Anna Nicole: Poems—are on Kindle's free lending library.  For 35 years, Grace has produced and hosted "The Poet and the Poem" on public radio, recorded at the Library of Congress and transmitted nationally via NPR and Pacifica. She is the poetry columnist for The Washington Independent Review of Books. Her play "Anna Nicole: Blonde Glory" opened in NYC in 2011. Her play "Quilting the Sun" opened in S.C. in 2011.



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Grace Cavalieri

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