Judith Terzi is the author of the brand new Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books) as well as five chapbooks including If You Spot Your Brother Floating By and Casbah (Kattywompus Press). Her poems appear widely in literary journals and anthologies including Columbia Journal, Good Works Review, Main Street Rag, Moria, Raintown Review, Spillway, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond." Her poems have garnered prizes and honorable mentions and have been nominated for Best of the Net and Web. "Ode to Malala Yousafzai" was included in Keynotes, a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey, and was recently read on the "Words and Music" series of the BBC/Radio 3. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and is a former educator who taught high school French language and literature for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria. Visit her website at http://home.earthlink.net/~jbkt.

Ode to Malala Yousafzai

She is a pool of gleam.
She is a seed, the rain.
She is a prairie of idea,
the harvest of motion.
She is rosewater
in a sandstone bowl.
She is the refugee, the tarp
of tent, the flame of fugue.
She is the arms of mothers,
a ribbon in a porcelain moon.
She is a lioness and loneliness,
the newborn swathed in pink.
She is earth yellow,
jade, aquamarine.
She is a threshold,
an arch, a minaret.
She is every headscarf––
magenta, amethyst, celeste.
She is our hands, our pen.
She is majestic, magnifique.
She is a luminous lagoon.
She is the sea––il mare,
la mer, el mar,

First appeared in Malala: Poems for
Malala Yousafzai
(FutureCycle Press)


Shel, you were my first make-out partner
in a pool closet in the Hollywood Hills.

Couples tangled on chaise lounges
in an 8th-grade queue. No heartache,

no saliva exchanged. A de rigueur lip press
maneuver. Guitar lessons–– remember

Guthrie: "Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye
Rosalita, Adios mis amigos, Jesús y María?"

Shel, we knew no Jesús, no María, no Juan.
We doubted life existed east of Western

Avenue. We'd never heard of taco, tortilla,
tostada. All we knew was our ducktails

had to be squared, & boys in black peggers
got sent home. No risk of conversion to Cholo

in our West Hollywood schools despite
some kids whose families had first rented

in East L.A., freshly landed from Brooklyn
or the Bronx, though some drove their

two-tones straight to Tujunga before they knew
what a jota was, how to pronounce La Jolla

or jacaranda, its blossoms purple-raining down
on sidewalks, clinging to the soles of our bucks,

shag of our mothers' beige carpets. Delis,
kosher butchers, temples dotted East L.A.

streets then. Where was the threat from el sol,
la luna, el mar? Amor. Remember Friday nights

we played guitar at The Garret on Fairfax, drank
mulled cider (What was that?), me ghosted up

in white lipstick, straight black skirt, black
turtleneck? Shel, The Garret was no House

of the Rising Sun, no Streetcar Named Desire.
No sockettes with my C.H. Baker black flats.

The Shredder

I handed him my Macy's bags of facts:
eight years of EOBs & tax returns.
He climbed the steps & hurled them in the truck
with others' ready to be crushed by blades.
And so the re-creation has begun,
the tabula rasa, like a magic slate,
a child's whose rub or peel of plastic delights:
Now you see it, now you don't. No truth
to spin, no monument. The letters, shapes
evaporate like homes dismantling in
charity vans, the furniture displaced
like lives without a country's tenderness.
No ashes to enshrine from documents,
no mercy found, no heart to resurrect.

(first appeared in Moria)


Judith Terzi



© 2018 Judith Terzi


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