for Jeanette or henry
Tuesday in homeopathy class
I want to take
to feel the waves more,
come and go with my grandmother
Thursday I hear
that you are gone
all smiles, good soul
you took yourself away
where did the veil go?
laugh at us
as we try to understand
mercy, moonlight, madness
my heart, my heart, my heart
my feet wet in all this rain
by Dianna Vagianos Armentrout
Published in Making Peace With Suicide by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.
Published in The Vermont Literary Review Summer/Fall 2009, Volume XI, Number 1
for Niko Tzoumas
I read What The Living Do backwards, whispering
starting from the last poem “Buddy”
turning the pages forward offering my grandfather
what I thought he could now understand.
On Christmas day morphine boxes, sour smell,
drumbeat breathing, the almost widow and friends
gathering, closing the circle of a Greek dance.
The first poem and death approaches softly,
the orphan calls out to his mother, his wife murmurs
Niko, Niko, my heart is closed, my life is over.
The phone rings again. Outside cold clutches me
through my heavy black coat; inside dry heat,
a pigeon walking past the window ledge.
I came to the hospital to pick him up from a routine checkup
and was alone in the hall when the doctor told me
no, he isn’t ever going home. I called his children
saying what couldn’t be true because my sister
and Charlie and Timm and I had just decorated
the Christmas tree for him and wrapped his presents:
chocolates and a flannel shirt.
Now people come:
cookies in red tins with snowflakes, small talk, probing.
The Kalymnio had to be medicated before his wife
brought him to see his fisherman friend.
His godson shaved him. He should have gone to Memorial
and he would have lived longer. He was never sick, never.
They don’t know that he raised pumpkins
so big he couldn’t carry them inside the house—
that he saved the seeds and after they dried
we baked them and we ate them together.
Kalymnio refers to a man from the Greek island Kalymnos.
Published in Connecticut Review Fall 2012 Volume XXXIV No. 2
I forgot about you, kore,
until I smeared a streak
of subtle blood on my towel.
I had conceived you already
savoring a glass of Chianti, under the eyes of my poet cat, in my grandmother's bed
while the moon shifted and sighed.
I dreamt of releasing you, daughter
into the life I thought I had given you
Weeping willows whirl
into each other's arms
waltzing with wind.
I watch someone else's child,
straw-colored hair hanging.
The first colors of September.
Reds speckle the top of maple trees. Soon
color will flow like a flame spreading fire.
I long for the bare bone of tree.
Why can't my excess catch fire
and blow away becoming one with the wind?
The sun shines through green stained glass leaves.
I spread my arms around the child and wait.
And wait. Winter comes.
Watch me, I will dance in nakedness with the willow.
The Good Wife
The good wife cleans brown stains
from the toilet seat, she washes
the yellowed underwear,
the silty solid milk in the blue
She goes to the farmer's market
and gathers sorrel, amaranth
and lavender, she nurtures
those around her table with broth
The good wife gives away
her last chocolate chip cookie,
her last bar of cream white soap,
her last daylight hours to other people's
She would have bought a butterfly
cookie for her daughter. Jane, crack
the cookie on your forehead. See
orange and purple sugar fall
to the floor.
Mud and Mercy
published Sacred Fire
Gates and Roses