Coiled up by the side of the tracks
while the train whizzes past, kicks up dead leaves
the overcast chill drizzles down fog and dreams
project onto his reptilian stare – he lies there.
At the bottom of the steps
he is expecting her
and in a trance she will take a chance
and follow him into his lair
to get out of the rain
she will miss the next train
dust and smoke will blow all around her.

Down below there will be a blaze, an éblouissement,
an ensorcellement, a haze as she has never seen before
though she will know he is enticing her,
clever, arrogant, mean.
He is a master deceiver – a magician
who decides to speak to her in French today
as even the dead leaves
will say , “C’est toi qui l’a voulu ainsi”
Yes, he will insist she’s having it her way, in the end
and captivated she will watch
these fallen leaves – masks in the fire burning.

First there will be a grand seducer, then a timid recluse,
a frightened child, a bully and finally this funny thing
with greenish skin – a worm she will feel sorry for.
She will then decide to put up with all these lies
or else drink pomegranate juice and wait for winter
to subside and for him to coil up again
once he’ll have had his lunch, loosened his choke and
the leaves will have fallen. Do snakes sleep? She assumes
they must retreat for a while – six months let’s say
as they sulk in a hole down below with their pain.
She will catch the next train.
She has seen enough of these masks
that are not hers and is tired of the way
they foil her own spark and madness.
The rock and sway on the tracks
will make her drowsy enough to gaze out the window
and follow the birds in flight.
Her finger will trace the light
as she’ll watch it escaping from all of those clouds
and all of this terrible darkness.

that are afraid of one another

  1. Water

They’ve been out there for hours
kids building a castle and towers
with bright and sunny sand
on a peninsula that’s being washed over
so now all I see is
their bodies bobbing up and down
and their arms flapping around
shooting out of the water in darts and flashes
with what sounds like joyful laughter
I call to them loudly anyway
as they don’t seem to realize that
when they lose footing amidst the commotion
they’ll find it hard to swim so they should
come back in from all the fun
in the water and sun
but there’s too much elation going on
for them to hear and this
is when I begin to feel helpless
and with a mounting sense of fear

  1. Grass

It’s a balancing act of great skill
I think as I watch this child
from the top of the hill
where I’m seated by the tall grass
and he steps carefully on rocks
at low tide
kite attached to wrist
anchored also to the sky
where it can fly all by itself
in the steady wind
so he’s free to stoop down
and examine everything
that’s in the ground
looking for treasure as he calls
this game he plays with refraction
ripple and flow
I know he takes time to find
the best stones with care
put my hand up over my eyes
to cover the glare
noticing his bright green
swim shorts match the gem
he brings over with the kite
down from the sky by now
and stands there with the treasure
still wet and full of light
his smile alone worth more than gold
and his way of looking so clever

  1. Fire

I have to say this last August moon
is even fuller than the sunset was today
the fiery glow over the dunes
has come with a surprise from behind
I believe as I peel an orange rind
and juice spurts into my eye with a sting
and I sigh knowing this taste will linger
past winter until spring savoring
the plump, juicy, acid, sweet and tart
while in the grass I see a clover
dusky and looking for a new start
too soon summer is almost over
as all these colors now yield
to an ever darkening blue
it seems to me that this is true
before the brightening again
yellows in time I take another bite
admitting the moon’s shine
wins over all other sides
in this rock, paper, scissors way
she has to end the day
with a touch of the unexpected
how she trifles with the tides


is when the candle’s light
drives Cupid’s flight
and Psyche journeys through darkness
destined to come out
with two
unfolding wings … …

skin to skin is one thing
but there are rules for
what’s beyond her larval gaze
for one : there’s the snake that flies
and then if she can feel or breathe
underlie this realization

that the fateful drop of candle wax
goes straight into the heart’s prism
with expectancy cloaked
in lore while crossing from
the primal
circadian core –

we know : the caterpillar
moves in waves
clings to branches upside down
or stays hidden
in leaves for days
and goes underground;

the hardest thing
for her after these nights with him
is to recall what before her flees
because neither the caterpillar
nor the cocoon actually sees

but probes with a winnowing fork
in the company of ants and a breeze
while sheep bleat and dawn puts sleep
back into a box
down the river
from whence it came

and she is not ashamed

of the pubescent yearn
to break away like him
from the lonely apartment that always
vanishes like the touch of his skin
at the top of the hill
in the valley anyway –

the destiny
of the lamp and the knife
with all those choices she imagines
once she too has felt
the sharp arrow
is to disappear

what she knows : springtime
arrives with flowers and lava
on the mountainside wild with stripes
of blush and spots with flush on skin
where they now meet in bowers
and spins gold … …

so this is the hope : that the look
in his eyes might seal
the wax into an emergence
beyond imago insecta papilio
that she might inspect how deep
the wound truly is

as the human form is bound
to search at night the eyelash on the cheek
the rasp of skin and flinch away from fire
the quixotic wingspan with scope and hope
the flutter and tilt
of the soul … & desire

Niamani : she whose purpose is peace

have always been different and the same
of course not the color of skin and hair
you’d change your look with cornrows one day
long braids and seashells the next and i never understood
since i just brushed mine and put on the same torn jeans
and Indian print t-shirts that said peace and love as in the name
you gave yourself Niamani like everything else
you carried in your heart and i wore it on my sleeve and

thought about
the subway ride you had back to Brooklyn when you weren’t
on the upper West Side with me or at school where we were aliens
in “Waspdom” as we’d call it back then and howl with laughter
as none of our grandparents had been slave traders or robber barons
but Italian shepherds from the Bronx and kings from Sierra Leone
in Honduras near Flatbush and the Brooklyn Bridge
i thought you looked like a princess so it all made sense to me

it made sense
after the Civil Rights Act and the Vietnam War that everything
would forevermore be ok though i admit with hindsight you had
your feet more firmly planted in the ground and i’d say i was more
the “feeling groovy ” song type so you laughed at me…”that song…
that song…” was about everything wrong with me you bellowed
”hello lamp post” and cigarette smoke billowed out of your mouth
though you were right and i was too optimistic and think

around then you changed
your name because your boyfriend was a Rastafarian
from Jamaica while mine played frisbee in Central Park
do you remember you gave me a Maya Angelou book and i
wrote a tune that i played on the piano while you danced and then
we went to the same college and you used to let me sleep sometimes
in your dorm room because i was freezing in my off campus house
and then i bumped into you boarding the bus

one day at Columbus Circle
to visit your old boyfriend at Rikers Island and it’s stayed with me
you with the other black women and children standing there
i asked how many years does he get for marijuana
and you said what’s important is for folks to stick together
and i knew what you meant about friendship and solidarity
we always had the same convictions anyway though

i never understood what happened after
and why you briefly married some mediterranean guy whose
name and face i couldn’t remember even before you got a divorce
and then at my wedding you came late and i spent years wishing
i’d just eloped and gone to live in a tree not because of you
but because of everything else going on that day
by the way did you say you’d gone to Macy’s
as if it was important just then to do that
we were both always late and i don’t remember

we were dispersed and i should’ve listened
thrown sticks of Yi Ching or at least learned how to do that
gone to Church more or been truer to myself and thought less
about how or if others were thinking of me while
we were searching for the transition into the lotus position
at centerstage looking to change with some style and variation
with a little attitude from the days when we were feeling groovy
and i wish it had taken less long for us to find out what it is
we truly hold dear in our hearts now or

should we be grateful for the growing pains
i suppose you’d say that it’s ridiculous to assume
it’s easy as when we first became friends
choreographing that duet to the Jimi Hendrix song “Little Wing”
finding graffiti on subway walls colorful and the rattle
the trains made awful only late at night
when it felt like a snake riding toward uncertainty
but then we were both so curious about everything
“walking through clouds” young and bleary eyed weren’t we

just telling the story from my point of view
i remember we often wore green army pants back then
you had a Malcolm X book in your school bag and i was reading
Herman Hesse and Yoga was a thing that we wanted to explore
to get away from the Hudson and East Rivers hoping
perhaps one day you might send me a photo of a dancing swan
in Rhineland where you live now and then I’d send you one
of an egret meditating by the San Francisco Bay since
i don’t think we’ve changed all that much
not in any significant way Niamani … namaste


lux, laughter
in spite of itself begotten not made
i saw what i saw …
i.e. in my child’s eyes
his face just after being born
gnawing on his little fist and smiling
so so much
enough to let me know
that there are places that abound in

rhymes with love sort of
and also surprisingly or perhaps not…
i saw a similar thing in my father’s eyes
the night before he died
his face bright and wide
with a toothless smile and both hands
raised toward me “hey”, he said
and made two round o’s with his index fingers
and thumbs “hey!”he repeated
to get my attention and i turned for what seemed like
forever around to look at him
and thought “wow!” 102 and getting better !
though he died the next day

light shining
out of darkness and… meanwhile…
my son’s grown up and still
cracking jokes all the time at least with himself he is
and probably with angels too ? sometimes…
now and then the thing about light
but also the thought of something eternal
makes me smile
the word itself light
as in lux aeterna is definitely much more
than just rays of sun light or even laughter
i think it just is something in the eyes
that makes me joyful though once in while
I kind of weep

Author’s Biography

Lucia Coppola is an ESL teacher who is originally from New York and has lived in France since 1985. She has a professional background in dance and body techniques. Her writing is informed by nature and traditional storytelling. Some of her work has been read on the Clocktower New River Radio and published with Inspirelle, The Parliament Literary Magazine, The Plants and Poetry Anthology, Vita Brevis and Soul-Lit.