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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Across the Room; a finite number; Love Poem

By: Terri Hanauer

Across the Room

Lost in the snowstorm

your shadow is translucent

and I can hardly tell

if I ever loved you back.

The burning wood

drenches me in flames

and I die a little more everyday.

Windowpane melts: I squander my breaths for your kind words

that rarely come: I have never stood before you

and let your hand dissolve

into my chest.

Dreaming then was like watching you cross the road

and get into your car. you left behind

all your suitcases, bound with frayed cord

that cut into my skin when I lifted them over my head.

If you cannot be kind, gentlemen, then at least

be a tree.

“Murderer!” I shout. The neighbors

drop their coffee and donuts. They don’t know

I’m looking in the mirror.


And so it goes…

Now that it’s over, I circle back

and see the first moment

across the room

the dancers in between

the shine in your eyes flaring into mine—

I arch my back and fly into the sky

surprised at how much I knew

and I did it anyway.

The next time we meet, let’s pretend

that we were friends once, long ago

because the night is too cold

for stones.

[Anna Akmatova, Vladimir Myakowsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Marina Tsvetaeva]

a finite number

there are only

so many tears

you have to shed

a finite number

they get parceled out

in thousands or thousands of thousands

for your dreams your hopes

your husband your wife

your cat your lover your friend

i pull the skin off the tangerine

and it sprays me in the eyes

sweet and stinging

my teacher said if you can kill a fly you can kill a man

you soak me like the rain

and make me walk in-between the drops

to escape

if i could lose you i would

how many tears would i shed for that?

my tears could fill up the fissures

if I had enough leftover

i’ll step into the sea

drink up the salty water

and drown, to be born again

maybe next time

they’ll give me less

Love Poem

I thought I was going to write a love poem.

We were in Paris on Thursday

when you died.

We flew out and buried you

on Sunday

under the huge Toronto sky.

I still tell the story

about the Beatles tickets—

you defied Daddy and went down

to stand in line at Maple Leaf Gardens

at four in the morning.

I tell everyone how Bob McAdory

from CHUM-FM called you a “special fan”

and gave you a rose

and we heard you on the radio that morning

and we screamed.

The last time I saw you

was like the time before

and the time before.

You didn’t know me

and you certainly weren’t you

some half-alive carcass

hooked up to a machine.

If I could’ve killed

your misery then, I would’ve.

You’re still alive

somewhere in me.

You sewed me dresses

of ruffles and pearls

planted lilies of the valley

up the path to our house.

You were cooking, always cooking

chicken soup cholopsas goulash blinzes

a bisl mel — how much? — enough

a bisl tsuker — how much? — a little

a bisl milkh — how much? — so it’s wet

Your thick fingers

pull thread through a needle

sewing your heart into pieces.

We walked on your washed floor, no respect

for your hands and knees.

You wouldn’t let us

in the kitchen—it was your domain.

You boiled the beef and chicken

so I didn’t know there was a difference

until I was thirteen.

I couldn’t have done

all I’ve done

without your pure forever love

I was your girl same hair same eyes almost the same nose

yours was prettier

We used to laugh

at your crochet dolls—

and wouldn’t I give anything

to have one right now?

The days go so slowly today

and I don’t want to grow

as old as you, lying on the plastic

on the couch, the pillows you knit

under your stocking feet, drugstore glasses

falling off your nose.

Have you thrown off your ancient bones

to soar with God? To look down and tell stories

about your time on earth—

the husband you had

the children you had – the life you had?

Your blankets are folded

in the closet, your pictures

in the album

you in me.

I guess this is a love poem after all.


Here is Terri Hanauer in a cluster of nutshells:Woman, mother, writer, poet, actor, director, photographer, supporter of human rights, dreamer, explorer, jester, meditator, friend, activist, Canadian/American, traveler, sister and daughter.Terri's been cut in half as magician Doug Henning’s assistant, had her baby blessed by Stevie Wonder, and has been hugged by the hugging saint, Amma.

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press:

How long have you been writing poetry?

Terri Hanauer:

I've been writing poetry for about three years.


Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?


Yes, it was Dorianne Laux's Ghosts. I couldn't believe how perfect the images were. I could feel the narrator's longing. And she's earthy and passionate. Her honesty surprised me. I loved it.

I've read it out loud hundreds of times these past three years. It moves me every time.


Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?


Dorianne Laux - Ghosts, Fast Gas, her poems about her mother

Mary Oliver - The Waterfall, The Summer Day

Charles Bukowski - for marilyn m, the singular self

Rachel Korn - On The Other Side Of The Poem, My Body

Peter Lefcourt - The Sadness Of Dentists

Anna Akhmatova - The Guest, Lot's Wife


Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?


Sometimes I like to get inspired by other poets so I'll read their work first.

I like to tell a story, and talk about people in my life who have touched me, so I think about them and come up with some images. Sometimes a photograph will help me get focused, or music.

My acting background helps me discover the underlying emotions and subtext of my work. So I try to be open to the words and ideas that seem to pop up out of nowhere. I'm learning to trust that my creative process is listening to those words and ideas.


How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?


I try to open my mind to different forms, so I'll read Russian poets like Vladimir Mayakovsky and Marina Tsvetaeva and intentionally be influenced by how they design their words on the page. My poem, Across The Room, is an example of that.

e.e.cummings's visual sense influenced my poem, a finite number.

Poetry is also a visual medium for me. I like looking at the words on the page, their order, the line breaks, spacing, etc. The visual helps inform the emotional.

Once it's done, I'll play around with line breaks and stanzas. I find the poem itself will find its own design and form.


Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?


Ask yourself why you want to write a poem instead of prose. Why sing a song instead of speak the words? I think the answer is you sing because there's no other way to express those specific thoughts and feelings. It's the same with poetry.

Be fearless. Sing your truth and you'll find your voice.

Find a great teacher who encourages your voice. I've been studying prose and poetry with Jack Grapes. I've just finished my debut novel, The Lightness of Rain. One of the main characters, Alison, is a poet! She talks about poetry being the access into what she feels but doesn't know she feels, until she writes the poem. So in her case, the poem is her voice.

Keep on writing.


What is your editing process like?


I'll sit with the poem and read it over and over again, out loud. I listen for rhythms, feelings, and tone. I'll play with words and arrangements. When I think I'm done, I'll work with an editor, Joshua Grapes. He has a keen eye and helps me see the poem I want to write.


When do you know that a poem is finished?


I know a poem is finished when I don't think about it anymore.


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