New Poetry, Fiction, Essay

5 poems by Clarissa Jakobsons

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Clarissa Jakobsons: Artist, poet, instructor, five-year associate editor of the Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, Clarissa was twice featured poet at The Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore, in Paris. She won first place at the Akron Art Museum New Words Competition. Sample publications include: Glint Literary Journal, Hawaii Pacific Review, Lake, Ruminate, Tower Magazine, Qarrtsiluni, etc. She conducted an ekphrastic poetry workshop at the Cleveland Museum of Art and had a solo exhibition at Western Reserve Academy Moos Gallery, Hudson, Ohio combining artist books, poems, and oil paintings. Recently she enjoyed an artist residency at the Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown. Don’t be surprised to see Clarissa kicking sandcastles and painting Provincetown dunes, climbing Mount Diablo, igniting Tai Chi poems, or walking under Ohio’s crescent moon.





Hildesheim Nocturne


Beyond distant medieval spires I

remember the past patterns of Germany.

Fire trucks now dash between slivers of light

below earth’s shelter. End of World War II. Twenty-

four-year old Schwester Klarissa stumbles down the stairs

carrying each patient from the fourth-floor to the basement

shelter. All are safe in her hands. Her head leans back with a sigh,

counting the sick. Ankles crossed, she listens to British then US bombs

descend. Again at dawn, Schwester ascends familiar paths carrying wounded

back to their rooms. Twice daily she repeats these steps until all are safe in the cave

under blasting black-out sights. Airplanes pierce darkness with shrieks of light and air

                                                                                    raid sounds of gloom.




Illinois Home of Mercy                           


If I told you the phone rang,

            would you care? But,

            you would believe.

If I asked for a match

            to incinerate

            that female voice

            left on the answer machine

            at 10:30 pm.

            She said,

            “Your mother is dead.”


            What would you say or do?

That voice rewinds nonstop:

            “The body must be removed

            within two hours.”


            But, I live in Ohio,

            did she die alone?

            Hospice promised

            she would not die alone.

November leaves quiver on the sidewalk.

            How much does forgiveness cost?

            Spell forgive.




Because My Hands Have Always Known…


Veins balloon from spider’s den

not at all like the ocean side seahorse.

I hobble from hips needing a lube job,

it’s not a riot. I’m dressed in Madder Red

and gold unlike Gustave Klimt, my true love.

Because my hands have always known…

I cannot hold yours, long cremated. Mother

said, follow me down cellar steps below earth.

I was obedient, icicles melted when the switch

turned on, scorching father’s body Mad Red.

Was I wearing black or gold? Earlier, in a trance,

I held a borrowed bible quoting passages,

the Catholic minister watched, he did not mind.

Then I hobbled to the car, drove to the Cape

looking for that seahorse to carry me home.

Because my hands have always known…

labor—what do they know now? Arthritic wrists

and ankles hobble down stairs, Mad Red

inflammations. I want to be 60 again, melt

icicles with my breath. Remember 20?




The Black Iris


In dream dust father’s body shakes,

            each vibration nourishes my DNA.

Forget Georgia O’Keefe’s flower-love,

            this is father’s ALS.

Hear missiles soar through barrier reefs?

            Mothers and children thrown into abyss.

Look past concentration camps and a handful of survivors

            beyond remains of annihilated families.

Depleted love: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Kashmir, Rwanda.

            Remember Stalin’s forced famine—

6 million Ukrainians exterminated, 3 million

            children turned into human compost.

Repeat after me: amour, je t’aime à la folie, amare.

Wrap these words around your wounds,

your bowels, and belly stones. Let them fly

            clinging earth. Watch it spin gripping

you and me with Red Canna, Black Iris,

            and a father’s love.




Among Your Effects, a Photograph    


Mamytė, petals frame your porcelain

            face hidden under a woven straw hat

blowing dandelion seeds into a swirling

            crystal ball, broken wall,

burning roof. Agamemnon dead.

            Love letters changed hands

while you lived at home with seven-

siblings, a twenty-year old married

woman waited for my father to-be.

It must have angered you to live

            apart the years before and after my birth.

Secrets disclosed Das Reichland

            sent you to Duderstadt, an ammunitions

lager, work-camp while father doctored

            quartz-calcite veins, hunched backs

carried lead, copper, arsenic, and ore

            in Northern Germany, St. Andreasberg,

a silver mining town, now a ski resort.

Your rose-gold diamond ring rests in a drawer

            smaller than many years remember.




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