Four Poems


Samantha Pious





Make it clear



A certain emptiness of mind

is cultivated by gardeners, Buddhist monks,

and editors.


(Yes, editors. Stet and underscore.)


When syntax runs wild

and knotty as weeds and desires,

when rhizomes have overtaken the plot

and chestnuts come tumbling down about your ears,

put on your gloves, roll up your sleeves,

and shear

until the leaves

attain the pattern they were striving for.









Of all the beautiful people, I recall

you, a model’s model, slender, tall,

seated like a lustrous blond lightning bolt

on one of the benches near the rear entrance

of the Vittorio Emanuele II

your head and shoulders swiveling


on high alert, for (I noticed) when a certain man

of medium stature, cufflinks flashing

like shining armor, smartphone nuzzled against his cheek—

as he strode by, your whole face lit up

with a sickly, simpering smile

and, like a fawn following its mother

out of an open field     toward sheltering, shadowy trees,

so that smile slid off your face

and followed his cufflinks riding through the gallery crowds.









The virgins in the rose garden

have lost their heads,

arms, toes—

wind, rain, and compulsory Christianity

have blurred their edges, pounded the boundaries out of them

like the billowy white clouds this mid-September sun

has dissipated.

A few of the inscriptions are intact.

The roses are not particularly lovely

and their reflections are barely visible in the stagnant pools

so there is little likelihood of love today

despite the excess heat warning.

Tomorrow, chance of showers, highs

and lows, erosion.






Vieille église de Delft



Dans le vaste calme

des piliers blancs, des voûtes blanches

entre le bruissement des manches noires et des colliers dentellés

une dame en noir bordé au bleu clair des oiseaux

s’occupe de son bébé.

Si les chiens aboient, on les fait taire.

De la chaire la voix mince du prêtre

vacille par le transept

tandis que des centains de chapeaux noirs se hochent

avec toute la sagesse    du sommeil.




Old Church, Delft



In the vast quiet

of the white columns, the white vaults

amid the rustling of black sleeves and lacy ruffs

a woman in black and robin’s egg blue 

is nursing her baby.

If dogs bark, they are hushed.

From the pulpit the thin voice of the preacher

flickers through the transept

as hundreds of black felt hats

nod sagely with sleep.









Samantha Pious’s translations from the poetry of Renée Vivien are available as A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2017); her Christine de Pizan translations are forthcoming.  She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. 



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