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Best Nola Perez Poems

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Our fig in January, entirely denuded now
like my heart in your absence, is but
more beautiful, if possible, in its seasonal
solemnity than in summer's exacting extravagance.
The trunk, grown massive in manhood, is a citadel
of strength supporting the curving bowl of its
branches as they bend back into themselves, becoming
the bare black sculpture of winter trees Hemingway
described in Paris in the Jardin of Luxembourg
where we used to walk, following in his footsteps.

These prayerful branches, grown as large as
the beanstalk giant of storybook lore, cup
the sky, making a sieve through which rain filters,
better for unobstructed passage to its 
earthbound blessing, clearer for the distillation.

Above ground two massive roots, more visible
in winter definition--veins from the beating heart
of the tree--though siblings still, sprawl out 
in different directions, then disappear wherever
they are traveling,  who knows where?  Not
climbing skyward like Jack on his leafy ladder, 
but earthward out of sight toward a Southern
provenance, toward Provence, perhaps, 
as if impassioned for home.


Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2010

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It's used as an afterthought, fattening festive 
arrangements for Mother's Day, Easter, 
someone's birthday.  An underrated vine,
enhancing center-stage flowers whose star-power 
doesn't wear well. It's the "coming attraction" 
that's there after the clapping dies down, 
replanted by doorstep or gravestone.  "Grow," 
I say, "Change my life with your traveling beauty, 
your common denominator, your scrawling 
signature seldom sought for autographs.

Snaking around graves at our family plot, 
it's an ongoing gift, out-giving the giver 
with its "overwhelming darkness", reminding us 
where there is life, there is also death. Surviving, 
thriving in hanging pots the less hardy exit,
it surprises and delights, reaching down from limbs
of trees for soil, unchallenged there in pine straw 
until tender tendrils insinuate their way 
to daylight through tapestries of needles

When the ivy becomes dense, I will know 
you are there: ivy of my heart, ivy of essence, 
the graceful way it swings and sways, how 
it takes to new habitat in the way you, Julie, 
cut a swath through New York City after lifetimes 
in the easy South.  We are old souls, older 
than the hedera, cousin to ginseng, reminder 
of the movement of the heavens, the ability 
to bring things together.  You were shelter, 
the poets' headpiece, bringing peace 
to my household.  Resurrection and rebirth, 
Julie, in this Easter of ivy.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2009

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If it hadn't been for poetry
what would I have done
with all those cliffs
I almost jumped off of--
with all the riffs
in the music of my life
I couldn't seem
to get enough of.
With all the passion
I imagined I couldn't
live without.  Poetry
was the place I passed up
the junctions I might
have chosen otherwise,
when Wise had nothing
to do with it.  You can 
be sure of it: Poetry
saved my life.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2012

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January & February this year, 
prescription lenses lost. I count
the cost (it cost me dear).

A place for everything
and everything in its place,
my grandmother said,

but I only know 
where my glasses are
when they're on my face.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2009

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It's rocking an empty flowerpot perched
in a pine tree:  'RockABye Baby in the High Top,'
its contents shell shocked in this February 
of zero wind chill.  It's the heart's empty nest,  
cold ripple of a lake that threatens to overtake, 
were it not for higher ground. We've wind
from the northeast, sharp and heartless, 

harbinger of storms, but I am Barrier Island, 
formed by one who taught me by salt, sea-
shell, and the sting of sand, bitter winter spray 
in remembered summer. Land bound, 
one learns to light where something shores us.  
So here am I , despite trade winds, the Skull
and Bones of picturesque pirates, failed 
story tales where even the wind lies. 

In the lake one small duck, sustained by 
its currents paddles my direction, drawn 
by intuition or design of a kindred spirit who 
would sail, dive with delight, endure 
the cold solitude of seagulls at evening, 
seeking harbor far from their ocean.  
They are white flags signaling Yes, 
You will find your heaven.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2009

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Starving a fever, 
stuffing a cold I'm following 
happily that old 
advice: pumpkin pie, 
coconut cake, excellent 
for easing any ache. 
O Chochona!, it's pneumonia,
so much chicken soup 
from friends in the coop, 
dark and white, breast 
and leg have me almost 
ready to lay an egg.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2011

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Blue Rivers
On Your Hands
Infections, Convections

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2016

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Write a poem…

I'm not without passion,
I keep it controlled.
To temper the action,
that's my role.
Not to say I am passive,

don't care to relate.
If I need to elevate, 
the key I keep 
is to where flame 
burns deep.

Summer is ending.
Where did it go,
maybe the cicadas know,
singing their lives out
with a corporate shout.

Where did it go,
to make room for snow?
We have none here.
Less reason to fear
the end is near.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2013

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At the Beach with Elizabeth

I wish my granddaughter paper dolls:
"Princess Elizabeth and Margaret Rose,"
circa 1940s.  I wish her pick-up sticks
of rainbow colors, or a rubber ball,
Say, and its metallic jacks.  I

wish her a Monopoly board, lots
of property---rows of dominoes
as black as the hearts 
of those bad boys who ran away.  "I wish, 
I wish, with all my heart," says E.

with wave of good witch 
Glinda's starry wand, while I ask 
Bring Elizabeth back 
that heartless pack who 
would not let her play.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2007

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There are three of them, Cinderella siblings:
shapely, deciduous, their leafy green
darkness undulating in the specter wind, 
its silent snare drum emulating heartbeats 
in syncopated symmetry. "Take us, Take us, 
Don't stop!" say the sisters, moving as deliriously 
as a woman beneath her lover, while their stripped-
down stepsister, one on one, spells out stillness
in inelastic nudity.  Wind shears through her, 
unconstricted by skeletal shapeliness.  
Nothing to arrange here by the coiffeur wind 
in the pared-down beauty of brittle lace-
work, if lacework be brittle.   

One nest rests halfway up on a slender limb, 
a single stem supports its phantom occupants, 
imagined, their ravenous snapper beaks -- 
landlocked shark-lings, all minuscule jaws, 
learning to prey under their mother's bellies --
inhabiting a denuded nest, awaiting a spring 
of speckled eggs, cracking the silent thunder 
of shells, to free those of gaping mouths, who 
know nothing of being born, just that they 
hunger and someone comes they do not name 
as mother: She of the dependable providence.  

For now, there are no newborns, only
a feather; feather, feather, whether or not, 
provenance unknown, caught in a branch 
far from origin like us, trapped in our casings 
of skin: softness pinioned in lacework of limb; 
ragged, if lacework be ragged. Here, 
where the sisters have been to the Salon, 
come back as frowsy as ever, but groomed 
somewhat, from a blow dry and a cut.

Copyright © Nola Perez | Year Posted 2013