Grace Cavalieri

Alchemy; House: Grace Cavalieri


In the 1800s

the Thames River stank

so wretchedly

people ran with handkerchiefs

over faces to residence

or carriage

while in the alleys of London

the coatless children died.

The human heart filled with knowledge

and fish jumped clear. The air went pure.

In the 2020s rivers rise on fire

with stench of oil and spill.


tangled with plastic fishlines

no longer fly. Ducks die.

Human hearts,

fill with knowledge, please,

grow a lotus from our deepening mud.


Within the wall there is

a room

and in the room

there is a

chair and

on that chair

there sat a man

and in that

man there was

a home made

of woman

chair and wall

and on that wall

there is a photo and

in that photo there

smiles a man and

on the rug there

sat the chair

and in that chair

a woman came

and took the hand

of the man who in

the photo held

a woman’s hand and

to that wall they

both assembled

to stand within

a golden frame

until the day

this poem was

written so

they could

sit upon a chair

within the walls

where there was

once a rug and

where there

was a chair

with a man who

loved a woman

who loved a man

who held his hand

within a house

made of walls.

Grace Cavalieri's newest publication is What the Psychic Said (Goss Publications, 2020). She has twenty books and chapbooks of poetry in print, and has had 26 plays produced on American stages. She founded and still produces "The Poet and the Poem," a series for public radio celebrating 40 years on-air, now from the Library of Congress.. She received the 2013 George Garrett Award from The Associate Writing Programs. To read more by this author: Grace Cavalieri: Winter 2001; Introduction to "The Bunny and the Crocodile" Issue: Spring 2004; Grace Cavalieri on Roland Flint: Memorial Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Whitman Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Wartime Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Evolving City Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Split This Rock Issue; Grace Cavalieri on Ann Darr: Forebears Issue; Grace Cavalieri on "The Poet & The Poem": Literary Organizations Issue.