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

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.

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. 


1 0 1


He is y garddwr.
His children ended up as wild
uncultured brambles but
his fuchsias are perfect,
tiny pink pagodas.

He is y gŵr.
His wife hates him
but stays. Why?
From habit,
for the tomatoes,
flame red, succulent,

He is y taid:
in fact,
my last.

He sleeps through Christmas.
I barely remember his face;
I’ve never seen it in my house.

He is y Cymro,
allergic to daffodils.

1 0 1

uncle--from a daughter surrounded by sons

You were accustomed to the world
as you knew it--wrestling matches
and skinned knees, motorcylces flying
down the mountain where you grew up,
growing older and traveling Europe 
alone. Your world changed
when I came.

I introduced you to pop music
and summer dresses—and vulnerability,
in the way that only the combination
of childhood and femininity can.
“Having a daughter should change
a man”—someone told me once.
You have always treated me like a daughter.

You gave me literature and logic
and imagination—the courage to say
yes and the common sense to say no.
You gave me confidence, so I deny
the small girl in me who wishes
only to cower, and I grasp the world
as you have taught me to do.
You did not let me think
I was different from your sons.

I imagine I scared you a little—
and still now as girlhood shivers
and loosens, and womanhood beckons.
My body is a woman’s, she
bleeds each month, and I paint 
my face, spray perfume in the mornings.
Men love me and some think me beautiful,
and I have loved men—
but I am still of your flesh.

And the men who come and go
do not wound me as they might,
for the love of a man is not
something that I have ever
had to chase after.

6 0 6


am turning into my mother.

she gave me her straight nose,
her broad bones,
her stubbornness

hold on to the truths you know
and the lies you don't.

or maybe,
am turning into my father.

after all,
i have his brown eyes,
his quick mind
his readiness

to leave all things behind,
let the road unravel
like twine.