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.
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
that female voice
left on the answer machine
at 10:30 pm.
“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?
she would not die alone.
November leaves quiver on the sidewalk.
How much does forgiveness cost?
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.