Denise Kolanovic


Denise Kolanovic is an ESL/English teacher as well as the author of ASPHALT SOUNDS, Fore Angels Press. 2004, having an MA in English and MS in TESOL. Her work has been published nationally in literary journals and poetry anthologies including THANK YOU, MR LINCOLN; RECKLESS WRITING; OUTSIDE THE BOX; FOR PRECIOUS LOVING BEASTS; CELIDH; SONGS OF SANDY, and others. She is active in several poetry organizations including Performance Poets Association and Bard's Initiative. She is serving her third term as branch president of All Cities Branch and has brought teen poetry contests and workshops to the local community.


New World Sestina

I came to this place that is my new world
filled with unfamiliar faces and voices
that speak words I can not understand.
The aromas of foods are foreign
to my taste and it takes me forever
to enjoy the diversity of food.
In my homeland, the flavors of food
were so rich and pure from my old world
where things remained the same forever
and all my family and friends' voices
were constant and close, not foreign
or distant. Can you understand
how I feel? Day in, day, out, I try to understand
the language and eat the strange food
and stare at the happy people who ignore my foreign
accent and laugh lightly in their snug world
sharing information with confident voices
that are strident and strong and understand.
I feel lost in translation, forever
fighting to grasp meanings and understand
facial expressions and idioms from their voices.
TV commercials sell diets and food
while starvation permeates the world
in places remote and foreign.
Sometimes I long for the shores of my foreign
land, or to gaze upon the sea and sky forever.
But it's as if I were an alien, from a world
that does not really care or understand
my point of view. It is food
for thought: as I study their voices
and their language; I merge with their voices
and domesticate myself in this cache of foreign
people who buy but do not prepare their food,
but rush around searching forever
for a lifestyle that they understand
that guarantees their pursuit of happiness in their world.
And yet, I still wander in this place forever
trying dilligently to understand
why I came, but afraid to leave this new world.

The Subjunctive Case

If I could I would change things
somehow ­ small things­ like the stone around your legs
and the stolid lines on my upper lip
­or­ stretch my fingers across
your shoulders watching electrons
free your heavy arms.
If I could I would move things
like the darkness in your heart,
the way "no" means "yes".
I'd return the stolen joys
which tarnished your dreams
like your oldest demi tasse spoons.
I would squeeze your lips with sugar,
lather your hair with crimson flowers
and lavish you with your lost heroes
in a string of pearls.
I would not only buy you dancing shoes
but whirl you like a rag doll ­ the way he had ­
If I could
I'd stare at you and say "I love you" a thousand times
just because you are a princess, a beautiful woman,
a starlet, a sweet sixteen virgin, an angel,
a tornado of sunshine
a drop of perfume.
If I could, I'd love you the way you've dreamed
a thousand times ­ taking you in my arms as you surrender ­
surrender to my powerful posture
and letting you know it will be alright, always.

Girl Speaking to Maxfield Parrish's "Ecstasy"

Swirling clouds call to me.
Tiptoeing to the edge, I wrap
my arms around myself.

Now is the moment.

There is no other blue but for the sky
bathed in salmon and gold.

I am free; I can fly,
my scarves blowing,
chaining my body!

O, sweet wind and dusty
rock, lift me to infinity!
Lift me in an eternal stroke
of your brush.