0 0 0


It's been two years since I've seen
your beautiful faces
So many birthdays passed,
so many milestones reached,
brother, I heard you brought
your first child into the world,
and brother, I hear she's
beautiful- the spitting image
of her mother.
You're the only person who
understands why I 
ran out the door that Christmas
and never came home, but brother,
I need you to promise me you'll
remind our sisters of all
the love we shared before things
went wrong.
I can no longer live knowing
they blame me for leaving
them behind.
I should have stayed to protect them,
I know that now, 
but brother, we both know it's far too late.
I hope someday they grow up
and realize that it was a decision I had
to make,
I hope they see that I have spent
everyday since dreaming of the day
when I can finally see them once again
and save them from the abuse I left
between the walls of
our small suburban home
And brother, I need you to promise me one thing.
Promise you won't let them forget me.
Please, don't let them forget me.
I need them, brother. 
I'll never let go.

2 0 2




Once upon a time

You were like a butterfly

Here and there and everywhere

Now you are stuck in a wheelchair


Once you sighed day in day out

“Why must I live so long?”

Now you’re blissfully content

You don’t remember

What you’ve ever said


You live in a foreign land

Like most in the dining room today

The piano plays soft melodies

Of bygone years, I feel my eyes

Well up with tears


Tears keep rolling

Down my cheeks

As I watch you sitting

Motionless, expressionless

I turn away my face:


A young nurse’s belly carries

A new life, a new beginning

Amidst the very ending

My tears keep rolling

Down to my trembling lips


The nurse keeps smiling

Her words are sweet

“Come on love, up you go

One two three, well done

Hang on to your walker, dear”

The old soul, half her size

Slowly shuffles on


I shed one more tear

My wet eyes I wipe…

The piano played

Their songs and mine

Once upon a time



 © irina dimitric  2013.




0 0 0

we are the ghosts of our cold home / i have never felt like my own person

She tells me that as a baby, I stood in my crib and peeped over the top of the bars, silent and patient, waiting for sight of an open eye before belting my first wail of the morning. I was thoughtful, I was considerate, I was the infant who wanted my first word, no matter how incoherent, to mean something, none of this screaming into the open air with violent intentions and no grasp of control; I was all about control, and I stood there, as a baby, for who knows how long. I stood there:


“mother may I”


and grew up to be the disappointing daughter, the prodigal firstborn who failed to fulfill the prophecy, I was no chosen one, I was nothing but a pile of potential under a cocoon of brown skin and myopic eyes


“mother may I”


I didn’t know you could cross the street diagonally in boston until I was standing at the edge of the sidewalk,  my life not quite at a crossroads, and the pedestrians going horizontal had the okay and the pedestrians going vertical had the okay and was there ever a wrong way to walk? no one walks in ninety degrees because the fastest way anywhere is a straight line but I am all about these detours, these delays, these sorry-not-sorry inconveniences, these procrastinations, these never-have-I-evers


“mother may I”


just like I didn’t know that if you skipped enough meals your body would give up on you, on the thought, like two disappointed parents finding out you’re not going to graduate on time, and then even the smell of food is nauseating, and you realize you have the power to eat or not to eat, you are all about control, I am holding the remote control and changing channels


“mother may I”


to a show that everyone says my family should have, where are you going with all those teeth in your mouth, all that sorrow in your palms, how many hearts are you going to break with eyes like that, please stop looking at me, looking at me, look how much of me is waiting to be branded like a slave in the old days, all this brown skin, all this war, all this depression


“helium helium helium helium helium helium helium”


I still don’t know what happens to balloons that little kids lose hold of, as I so often did. I mean, I do—they pop at a certain point in the atmosphere, don’t they? the broken rubber floats down to reality, thanks to gravity, I guesss, and here we are


but I want to go up and up and up and no one wants to hear me talk about dying but I want to talk about it and I want to be detailed because when I am alone I plan the moment, like how there will be this beautiful song in the background on repeat and I will lay on the ground until my breath gets shallow, and no longer will I have to ask for permission


“mother may I”


she will never say yes. (will she ever, will she ever) she will never
say yes. 

0 0 0

Above all, you taught me self-pity.

With an idea of the truth and the thought
that I could do this, just this, I would say
I would say that
I was never smaller growing
than, when I was with you,
when you told me that if that, there,
was the worst day of my life,
that I was very lucky.
That I was never more chronic than
when you told me, there, at the height of my-
that I liked to exaggerate so much
that I believed you.
That I think you know that I thought that
you’d rather have made something else
and that you had.
That I couldn’t else but look,
Because I think you saw what I did, there,
then, when I looked.
That I’m afraid of changing,
in spite of all my books
that I’m afraid of changing, then, now,
into you.
That it hasn’t been that long since I
was surprised to be old, then
and to be something other than tolerated,
other than barely
and with sighing eyes.
That that one open hand was the least,
then, there.
That I try to forget that I’m not old
because you noticed,
that then, there, I was crying and breaking.
I would write,
because speaking is hard.
That I was never smaller growing
then when I started last time saying
‘I’m glad it’s over with.

3 0 3

I was five the first time I saw
someone fall out of love.
I watched as my dad walked
out on my mother and I watched
as the pain of heartache ate away
until there wasn’t anything left.


I was six the first time I saw
how fast people can move on.
I met my stepmother and though
she was incredibly lovely,
I didn’t see much love in her
eyes when she looked at him.
I watched my mother’s retreating
back and I realized that not even
love was strong enough to
make someone stay.


I was eight when I learned that
love was nothing more than a trap.
I looked into my baby sister’s eyes
and I knew that it would go to hell.


I was sixteen when I realized just
how bad a forced love was.
I heard the screams in the dead
of the night and the wishes
that they had never met.


I was eighteen when I learned that
you could have your cake and
eat it too as long as no one found out.
I watched as my dad walked out
again, but this time, his spirit left
while his body stayed behind.


I am twenty-one and now I know
that a life of not being taught how
to properly fall in love had disabled
me to feel like I deserve it.
I saw how love destroyed three
people and now I fear that
it may destroy me too.

2 0 2

My Grandfather's Apples

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3 0 3


I play hangman in my head,
never let myself win
because I’d much rather choke
on the unfinished words
than feel complete.

Mind games are my favorite escape – 
the safest way to convince myself
my thoughts are not chaotic 
is to fill an arbitrary void.

My heart is a carefully folded paper football – 
every lonely day, a flick from fingers 
bent on reminding me
by the grace of my layers
I am strong, 
that though my edges may fray, 
I can take the hits, coach.

Someday someone will find me 
by the vending machine 
and the sight of me will remind them 
of the soothing games 
they used to play.

My father, the strongest man I’ve ever known, 
spent more time in hospitals 
than holding my hand. 

Most days were check-ups
some were surgeries, 
but there were days 
where he couldn’t dissociate
the rigors of war
from the stress of crafting necklaces
from plastic beads.

I looked forward to afternoons – 
not for the normalcy of riding bikes and wasting youth,
but for the routine hours
while mom visited dad,
where my brother and I sat
at each end of a 12-foot conference table
and kicked each others hearts around.

I play hangman in my head,
view life as a game.
Often you’ll see me
typing in mid-air, 
drifting off envisioning field goals,
mouthing poetry aloud 
like a four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. 

It’s why I aspired to be a master 
of the game of kings,
precisely why I’ve made my living, 
in the past, off pairs of sevens 
played like aces.

I’ve learned the greatest of men falter 
when weight becomes real.

I play hangman in my head,
live my life as a game,
because I watched the man
who made me crumble, 
while my brother told stories, made jokes, 
and used a seemingly worthless piece of paper 
to play a game and teach me
how to smile,
how to feel,
and how to shuffle up thoughts and deal.

I play hangman in my head,
flick my heart across a table,
scared someday I’ll win.

0 0 0


Skeletal awnings,

Beneath a fierce sky

That glares down

On this brittle-leaf town,

Where she made

Bright ornaments from bottlecaps,

Threatening to skitter away

At the wind’s first word.


Acrid spell of cleansing,

Forgotten lingering vowels,

That creeps into the misremembered

Song she sang as she went about

Those bustling daily echoes.


Reclaimed detritus,

Every last piece of this place,

That sailed here

From some long-rusted purpose

Here a roof;

Now a home,

When we found a prosthesis

For the dinner table’s wobble.

1 0 1

Spring brings autumn in her mind.

We've got an aerie of eggs

on our puddle, 

said my nan. 

One with eggs

She's got eggs again

And the dad, he goes 

back and forth, he does, 

he brisks about

with a grass and a straw.

Yes nan.

That daddy, he carries

them around

back and forth. 


0 0 0

Conception / Dispersal

 The mother-seal
in the spotted nylon dress
holds up a dandelion clock
for her pup

who grasps it,
    like floating seeds
    in a summer breeze