Makhfi, woman poet, 1638-1701, Moghul Empire

Her pen-name, Makhfi, means “hidden.”

The nightingale forsakes the rose to see me in the garden,

The pious Brahmin will forsake his idols when he sees me–

I’m hidden in my words, like a scent within a rose’s petal,

Whoever wants to see me, it’s in my words he’ll see me.


Translated by Dick Davis in “The Mirror of my Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women”

My Peeps in Poetry

Recently gave a reading of some of my favorite poets.

Here are three women of the Beats, New York School, San Francisco Renaissance…well, why label them. Just enjoy.

The Goddess Who Created This Passing World
By Alice Notley

The Goddess who created this passing world
Said Let there be lightbulbs & liquefaction
Life spilled out onto the street, colors whirled
Cars & the variously shod feet were born
And the past & future & I born too
Light as airmail paper away she flew
To Annapurna or Mt. McKinley
Or both but instantly
Clarified, composed, forever was I
Meant by her to recognize a painting
As beautiful or a movie stunning
And to adore the finitude of words
And understand as surfaces my dreams
Know the eye the organ of affection
And depths to be inflections
Of her voice & wrist & smile


Jerusalem Artichoke
By Janine Pommy Vega

I learned a hundred lessons
in the garden
deeper was the first

the least little root
of Jerusalem artichoke
carries a sturdy new
plant into April

like the vaguest hope for
a friend
buried, like a sliver of moon
in the heart in spring

there are hundreds of sunchokes
take more than you need
give them to people you’ve
never seen

look for me
in the garden, laughing
and crying at once.


“The best thing about the past

is that it’s over’

when you die.

you wake up

from the dream

that’s your life.

Then you grow up

and get to be post human

in a past that keeps happening

ahead of you

Joanne Kyger