I went to Maria Lisella’s apartment in Queens, a walk from the train, the elevated N. She thoughtfully had prepared a meal for me, soup, bread, cheese, grilled vegetables. Her cooking like her poetry takes what is everyday and elevates it to an exceptionally rare place, the extraordinary—my that’s good!—and it’s universal too, meant just for you.
Before we ate, we recorded. I had first heard her read in NYC at a Bryant Park event back when she was Poet Laureate of Queens and her book, Thieves in the Family, had just been published. We bumped into each other not long ago—in Queens of all places—and I asked her if I could record her for the blog.
The Vimeo below is very comfortable, down to earth, an easy listen and to the point. The poet has spread poems on the floor selecting some to read for us, her guests. Everyone’s been invited. Welcome and enjoy.
Maria and I both belong to Brevitas, an online poetry group whose members post poems no longer than fourteen lines on the first and fifteenth of every month. Every year Brevitas publishes an anthology. The three poems by Maria that follow can be found in Brevitas 2021.
Quarantine and still I wait for you or
Can we still fall in love this summer?
It’s the small things that shape a day…
to enjoy the sun on a sparkling winter morning
or an enchanting overcast afternoon
or the fast clips to a cup of cappuccino
or the chain of breaths I take
at crack-of-dawn-yoga, stretching this aging
machine into animal shapes: dog, cat, cow,
crow, lizard, penguin, eagle, half moons
and humble warriors. These are the acts
that keep me rooted,
keep me from jumping ship,
or evaporating into morning’s thin air.
Sheets or 60 Ways to Live Longer Stronger Better
Behind “Boost Your Brain Health” tips
is the “Go to Sleep Easier” category:
number 8 is Change your bedsheets
every Sunday. I make it a point to make
the bed with crisp white sheets, edged
with lace when my sister visits. She offers
to strip the bed before she leaves. I stop
her. I don’t tell her those sheets will stay
for weeks. I simply cannot bear parting
with the scent that remains from
anyone who has ever loved me.
My night with Wallace Stevens
No mother suckled him
Concrete motions frame his demeanor
Neither sallow nor olive but bloodless
Muttering an absence of carnal desire
Sunsets burst in his pockets
A life of labor lost and found
Soaked never by sun, moon, stars
Hankering for distant lands, a nomad life
Tethered to quicksand time, heedless
to tender whispers to sit and gaze
At hungry birds in snow.
Thieves in the Family is published by NYQ Books. You can check it out here:
“Maria Lisella’s poems are terse, tight and sometimes brutal despite their inner beauty. Every line is earned and dense with feeling. She leaves no room for sentimentality or cheap emotions. These are poems by a woman who knows where she’s from and where’s she’s been and those who read her work will be glad she decided to share that experience with us.”
Richard Vetere, The Writers Afterlife
You check out more about Maria Lisella here: