Friday 29 October 2021

Four Superb Poems by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko




Myth of unsolved mystery

Color of smoke and shadow


What have you done 


with October? last September?

Not even cold December

could resist your profound shudder—

your dark obsessions   musty scent

distant rolls of thunder


Silent film on tiptoe—

Chaplin   Bergman   Pasolini—

heavy trains of thought

limping through me now


Deep in my throat’s forest

your oboe’s haunting timbre--

twisting tones of burnt sienna

living embers turned to ash




hands pointing to

The Eleventh Hour

ever on the edge of slumber

your days of dead

were never numbered

When Death Was a Little Boy


he spilled blood all over the carpet 

and no one forgave him except for God 

and all the other Big-Shots who have hardwood 


Jesus placed a rosary of eyes that never close 

around his neck    And in his mouth 

the mutilated silence of deaf sparrows 

whose broken wings turn like blank pages 

against the winds of time 


Death has plenty of time 

He waits patiently among the bruised lilies 

with his long sad shadow shading his face 

and constantly looking over his shoulder 

He never gets any rest 

He has heavy bags under his eyes 

which he must drag along on all those trips 

he never takes himself 


Sometimes   you can hear him 

rattling around   and around 

But   no one sees Death coming— 

only Life   and God 

whose rosaries are everywhere 


Once   Death caught a glimpse   

of his own reflection in God’s eyes 

and all his mirrors shattered. 

Then   they folded like cracked ice— 

tequila on the rocks! 

He’s still picking up where we left off 


Oh   Death has plenty of time 

only… he could use a little rest-- 

he looks much worse  in person!

 The Waiting Room 


Here we go dying  

all in a row-- 

one by one 

little by little-- 


on the ticking clock 

we take a number 

we wait our turn

then wave So long!

to the sleeping world 


Everything else 

has already retired--   

the wilting petals 

the tired sheets 

the sleeping pills 

in their porcelain caskets 

The nurses   starched    

and ready-to-go 

are going going 

have already gone  


Here we are now 

mooning each other  

in unmarked gowns 

shuffling down corridors 

winding up staircases 

circling the ceilings 

stumbling into  

our iron cribs 

None of us have faces 

only blank pillows 

with dimpled expressions—

expiration dates 

stamped on our forearms-- 

humble offerings 

in stainless steel bedpans


Here we go flushing 

ourselves down toilets   

with yesterday's vomit 

clutching remotes 

as if they had answers 

as if they had souls 

as if we could shun 

the blind plunging needle ! 

Not here ! Not here ! 

How it searches in vain !


Somewhere else                                                                                              

someone else 

is silently screaming   

burning syllables 

of wordless prayer  

Shorn like a lamb 

as smooth as a baby-- 

my mouth-- an open grave 


Only our bodies 

know why   we are here 

dining on drip and borrowed blood-- 

sipping comfort  

out of canned air 

Only my pain 

knows where I am 


How often   I long  

for that other country-- 

to inhale its garden 

unwhispering my name 

How suddenly I fade 

with the wave of a hand 

not knowing when I will return 


Here I go ! Here I go ! 

So long !  

Sooooooooo  Looooooong !  



behold  NOW 

my gaping fear 

the mummy-in-waiting 

in sterile white gauze 

Foiled in aluminum 

dressed like a turkey 

Beware beware 

the slick rubber glove ! 


On the operating table  

I floated over myself 

like the moon   or a balloon 

Losing the earth    

I lost all time 

sensed the All Knowing 


 (This I know  or  

do not know 

What do I know ?) 


Floating here                                                                                                             

is no longer permitted 

We walk on our knees 

We kneel in our wounds 

I don't have a face 


Please come see me 

dragging my life 

like my flesh behind me 

Visiting hours  

are between this


and that

Song of the Dying


                                  Hello darkness my old friend

                                               Sounds of Silence—Simon and Garfunkel


O   Dark Sphere–

face revolving with the earth

changing shape and color–

will I never see the whole picture?


I am falling within

the flickering shadows

of my eyes   They are the fields

of childhood

patterned with liquid dream

disappearing into their horizons


I am closing within

the closing eye of the needle

that threads light

through the visible veil

of God’s invisible world


I know all your human songs from memory

The unpopular   the unsung

remain on my lips–-

my mouth opening like a grave


Who   with her long black gloves

holds a hand darker than night

and places it over each living eye

so we cannot look into the Light–

the beautiful Light that remembers?


Tell me   Old Friend 

is it your bow

that draws so sweetly

across the universe of my heart–

a single violin?

November and When Death Was a Little Boy were  published by Danse Macabre  online but not in print a few years back; 

The Waiting Room and Song of the Dying are unpublished.


Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London–-publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Henry Miller and Bob Dylan, to name a few.  his death, it was his friend, the late great Kathleen Raine, who took an interest in her writing and encouraged her to publish.  A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants: one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Joseph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence. 

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