[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Louisa Calio *Featured Poet* – Issue.XXIV : January 2017 ” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″ margin_design_tab_text=””]one of those – the second wave feminists…[/ultimate_heading]
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Louisa Calio is popular and widely read poet from America. Her writings have appeared internationally in anthologies, magazines and literary journals. Louisa has been honored by Barnard College, Columbia University as a Feminist Who Changed America Second Wave 1963-1975. She has also traveled to East and West Africa, lived in the Caribbean and documented her journeys in photographs and the written word, completing an epic poem “Journey to the Heart Waters”.

Read the poems by Louisa Calio




Pandora’s Box


Purple Sky, Orange Moon

Stars in movement

Wild Wild flowers bloom.


By the lake he sees her

By the lake he takes her


Oh the power

Oh the power

Opened flood gates!



Island Woman

“The way of beauty always passes through nature.” Piero Ferrucci


Islands hold a special allure and often act as metaphors

for our many aspects, as well as the perfect expression

of our unique and separate self.

Greek islands have history; stark, white, stony and hilly

like the island of Malta, which also has many ancient goddess sites

like Sicily, the volcanic island of my ancestry

and home of Mt. Etna.


There are numerous wild, volcanic and tropical islands

Hawaii, Bermuda, Bora Bora … which exude the essence of

lushness, abundance and sensuousness;

so too are there desert islands that offer space,

islands of loneliness that we create,

Japan’s and Indonesia’s many islands,

Staten and Coney Island,

my playground as a youth.

Islands of light in the higher realms

man made islands,

islands that are the capital of business

like Manhattan isle, where my father toiled all his life

and one other very special island in my life

Jamaica, my island of light.



JAMAICA Dreamin’


She said, those were just dream days, day dreams

to be free from fear and inhibitions

or voices giving direction.

Unreal, to live like this

Awaken with the sun, lie peacefully at night

live in harmony with inner time.

Are you crazy or just dreamin’, child?


Sheer moon-mother-madness to dance

all silvery by the seaside with imagined nymphs

and swim with dolphins and mantas by night.

No. Not me; this can’t be;

will never be believed by your friends.


Fires in the evening, cast a warm and gentle glow,

bodies alive with movement, sweat, breath.

Unreal. What, then, is real?



Foreign Affairs

(for M.)


In our differences we are made more alike

your jungles so like mine

From a common sea we come, we meet we find

doubles, irony abounding.

You an exile, me a child of exiles,

meet on this strange impure shore

Home to captives, slaves, outcasts and braves

a place of mixings.


You leave your land, a land my ancestors invaded

you speak their language, I cannot.

I meet you, a result of this madness

The horrors of war waging there, still

directed in part from this brutal shore.


This has brought us together.

Terrors sometimes bear more than the terrible expect.

From the toil and struggle, the woman brings forth.

From the labor we cultivate a garden of generations.


The harshness of this makes a shock

No innocence, no where. How to read the plot?

You, who I was taught was the different

and the dark, are and are not.

You are more like me than many who share appearances.

To your shock, I speak of your ancient philosophy,

African Cosmology, while you tell me

it’s the religious and colonial that must unknot.

You make technological weaves and waves

You are right, so am I.


Exchanging gifts, we make new kinds of nourishment.

The sources of trade -giving and taking,

taking and giving. Poet and politician make a pact

the labor of generations brings us to this spot:

“As cultivation spreads, impurity recedes.”(Ogotemmeli)


I met you before I knew your history

I knew you by the beating of your heart

You were made to know me better, by force.

Ironies abound. There is still much pain

where you came from, we must make changes.

You teach me community, freeing me of the jackal’s path

I teach you individuality, freeing you of the communal trap

We learn to balance

We must.


You are gone, I bite the heat of loss

taste the coolness of remembrance

lick the sun’s supreme heat, taste the cool dry ice of moon

crawl into my snail shell- home

not so lost. All around me are cowry shells

2100 tortoise shells, left on my doorstep-good fortune!


From the four corners I see you coming,

more magnificent than ever

I see you pass in a long procession

your face freed of the cross

the magic in you restored.

Again you wear the leopard skins and white

broken bones and cut out tongues mended

I shear my hair, a symbolic act

wear the black and white,

perform the future rites

prepare for the new kind of fight.


Like the priestess I wait for you

for all the loves unfulfilled

for all the lives crippled

I wait, and it is coming

and you will recognize me

in the darkest night by my thighs

and I will know you at all times

by the fire in your eyes.



Kali – the transformer


I’ve heard enough of how you’ve been mistreated

and oppressed, left for dead.

This is it, my friend,

no more pitying your plight

being polite, or driving you around.

It’s all over now

Time enough for you to stand on your own.

Enough of those negative ego trips, backwardness

and resentments for being born.


Now watch me and my dragon fits

Hear my words of blood and bile

observe this goddess


when she smiles,

because it is I and only I

who has loved you through all these lives!


Lifting The Veils


On the afternoon we saw your brother off to America

tired, after weeks of efforting at the embassy

we accidentally locked ourselves out of your flat in Amarat and decided to brave the desert’s

brutal, noon-day sun for a drink.


I, in my beige dress, the color of sand,

you, in your jacket, the color of the mid-night sky

walked to the only local restaurant, “The Canary”

where foreigners were still permitted to buy

those tall, flat and warm Sudanese beers.


I wondered what the men in white thought

as they served us on the terrace

politely placing the bottle between us

careful not to look into my eyes or address me directly.


We sat for hours sipping the single brew

breaking nearly every taboo

non-muslims, Italian-American, Eritrean,

unmarried lovers, drinkers of alcohol.

We live dangerously, I thought.


Yet, all that dwarfed and disappeared

when a profound and silent sound echoed from long ago: Firenze, 13th Century!


The curse of these human eyes,

to see, to sense, but not to clearly prophesize

to only guess there is a why

to what is more than meets the eye

to the vision of you and I

meeting in another time,

another forbidden rendezvous of lovers

in the ancient city of Art, Poetry

and that other pair of Great Lovers

Beatrice and Dante.


Before I could further fix my gaze

this scene had swiftly changed

to a lush garden somewhere in Asia,

where you and I took our final vows of selfless service

before an ancient shrine of Buddha.


Was this a past life memory,

a passage through the barrier of time?

And that afternoon when I vowed

to remain your friend for life,

though I had passionately sought to be your wife

did I know, somewhere deep inside,

that not all of my emotion, devotion or intention

would change a single line

of the pattern that has kept your life

both connected and separated from mine?



Come Eat My Roses


(Looking for the darkest root with the thickest juice

Let me swim my way back home, Mother.)


I’ve seen the horrors of the wasteland

yet to come, the famine spoken of

I thought I was bound to them

repeating in generations,

Cruel acts a mad race spawning atrocities.

In my gloom, I sought to abort human life

vowing to bear no seed to carry on this night-time

I believed I was fixed forever!


But frustration screams rivers

Rivers running through my bloodstream

Ferocious as a forest fire in high winds

I seering, seering, SEE

I can make nothing better by speech

alone, risking as I speak the madness.

I’ve tried to fight the confines of my human life.

But decisions made early stake their claims.


Consciousness is not a constant thing

though a continuous vigil.


Ours is a time of sewer landscapes

removed as we on a concrete shore

from the truths nature teaches.

Pounding shower thoughts burst forest greens

into my eyes to tease, to taunt.

I try to cut out the sensuous landscape

to fit what lies out here.

Yet visions rush blood, blood into my eyes

Leaves with thick sap stick together to haunt me

Eternal sperm, living, living, living, yet.


Rain, stop your screams

I want to pass quickly.

Clouds come take me from these visions:

Doubles turned to numbers: threes, fours

Dual dilemmas – the source

Hieroglyphs made real

Story lines cut open.

In shadow shows the dream

archetypal reiterations, revelations

my inner ears-the humming-

I hear them sowing, my small eyes burning

I fear the light blinds!


I see the miniature, the smaller canvas in you and I

mirrors with double eyes

To see in four to the other side.

Dual dilemmas, dialectical pulls

that rip my heart. I follow through

pushed down to the deepest dark

Past the guarded secrets I am led

guided by the old mysteries

I am vomited up again.

In relief, I traverse the earth.


To see you

To see you clearly

To see you in peace or to see you in war

I see you at the crossroads

You may go the terrible way,

by the light of the blood burning sun

we may become scorched earth in famine and drought

If you deny the forces of water

If you kill the rain making powers,

the sources of moisture.


Clouded by your monstrous machines

we could set this world on fire!


(Mother, let there be some silence in me tonight

Quiet the death defying acts

I tire of balancing

Strung out on the tightest robe

While you cross under.)


Paused at the brink, you are the final link

caught in reason, dying to believe

what you see in concrete

A masculine bias.

The epic has been told and retold

before the Hebrew or the Greek

through time in other weaves and languages

sounds the same struggle.


See me/see me clearly

as I have seen the masculine side

trying in my childish soul to be the man

Believing he had all the powers as I was told.

Now I am my role and am not

Female/male. No more just the mother

that made you a child too long

giving you the power

we began to believe you possessed it alone.


The door is opening

Come, watch me weave

I am mending as my grandmother used to

Join me with your tools, in this woman’s labor.

Each new weave better teaches us the old

Let us unravel the soul

we are the insides of the story told

the doubles: twins the ancient guides

meeting of extremes: not extremes inside

Doubles in the spirit

Doubles in the material

The meat of all texts:

we must eat to survive.


There will only be wars before the revolution

So, Don’t be Afraid

Come Eat My Roses

Take the passion fruit

ripe and ready

Dive into the face of love

Touch the blood of passion

as it drips from the cup.


(Mother, you say any death diminishes me

any rebirth is our increase

Then tell me must all the oracles be ignored?

I cannot see, I cannot see at all!