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Where the Poems Are
Anjie Kokan


There are narratives stashed in the basement
inside the pockets of a gray wool coat
that kept me warm my first year
teaching in Korea's bitter winter of '94.

There are plagiarized rhymes
in a box on the closet shelf,
old letters from a first love
who wooed me with Loverboy lyrics
he claimed for his own

My name is engraved in a golden sonnet
once clasped around my wrist by the one
I thought I would marry. It keeps quiet
in the night stand drawer.

A recipe poem for the wildest
rum cake you'll ever taste
spins in Grandma's electric mixer
which I still use, even though it's cracked
and runs with only one beater.

Gossip is detailed in a rant poem (in desperate
need of revision) within the tin tray Coke Girl
who smiles and caters to guests.

An epic has started in the portrait
of the perfect alien family, complete
with planets, drawn with colored pencils
by a young artist whose brother cannot
speak, whose father moved out.

Lined up in the medicine cabinet,
the poems that sting and suffer,
but poems awaiting cotton swab dreams, too.
And on the cluttered counter, a first line
on the tip of my pale rose lipstick that longs
for more.

The poems that broke my heart
are stuffed in the metal cabinet
with tear-stained details of
my son's diagnosis, MSA signatures
of two people who once loved, and
a cold stamp mark for bankruptcy.
They are filed behind the victory poem
of the new deed for this old house
with my name and my name only.

There's a haiku peeping from a young
girl's mirror that has linked
her newly emerged curves
with a vanilla moon.

A sun poem pours its cliche
of light prayer every day through the beveled
glass and onto my dining room floor.
It keeps me going.

And blue poems hide in the nettles
out back, the dying hibiscus, and the crack
in the carriage house window. These blues
linger among smooth sestinas of dragonflies
and bee balm.

But the best poem ever, yet to be written,
is brewing inside you, my love. I'd like
to think we could write it together, starting
now with my lipstick's first line.

From Toward the Light, Summer 2008.
Copyright Anjie Greene-Martin.
Used with the author's permission.



Anjie Kokan is an internationally published and award-winning writer whose work has been featured in a wide variety of publications. An English as a Second Language instructor to adults from all over the world for more than 25 years, she says that job is as inspiring and energizing as ever. Inspiration for her writing comes from those she loves, which includes her two children and poet husband, Robert, with whom she lives in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin. When she isn’t writing or teaching, Anjie enjoys growing sunflowers. Learn more about her here.


Post New Comment:
Oh dear Anjie, Thank goodness I look on YDP everyday. I would have missed this very special poem. You did such wonderful work putting many lifetimes together.
Posted 10/26/2014 08:34 PM
I am tremendously moved by this poem. All poets should read this one. They'd certainly get it!
Posted 10/26/2014 12:49 PM
Donna Pflueger:
Oh, Anjie. How your poem tells a story in such a wonderful and intriguing way! You never cease to inspire me! the crack of the carriage house window...Yes!
Posted 10/26/2014 08:52 AM
Absolutely beautiful--with the perfect ending.
Posted 10/26/2014 08:51 AM
such lovely images...beautiful!
Posted 10/26/2014 06:28 AM
Strong, and a poem from which one can draw strength.
Posted 10/26/2014 06:01 AM
Enjoyed this so much! Thanks, Anjie!
Posted 10/26/2014 12:00 AM

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