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Andrena Zawinski Poetry

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern.



Sun spills silver stars of light along rippling summer waves.
A string of pelicans wing the horizon,
light in flight for all their heft.

Children squeal and squirm inside their plastic inflatable.
One slips over the side, feigns drowning, splashing and kicking,
holding onto his crying sister, jumps back in to tickle her side––
then all of them swim in giggles and smiles in frolic and fun,
family picnicking at the shore, waving from bright beach towels.

Other children, roped onto rafts in flimsy life jackets, float in
from Aleppo across the Aegean away from bombs and bullets
to find a way out, forge a way in, whole families cattled
by smugglers, squeezed in dozens deep. But those who slip into
this dark sea cannot be rescued with innocent teasing and mirth.

A three-year-old washes up onto the beach face down on the sand,
limp body leaden in his father’s arms,
water lapping the wounded shore.

(previously published in Reunion Dallas Review, Vol 6, Univ. of Texas, Dallas, TX)



On the moon’s craggy canvas,
our brains brushstroke a face
with droopy lids and fleshy smile
from craters and ancient lava flows.

We spot Demeter on a russet,
the Virgin Mary in a quesadilla,
Our Lady of Lourdes on an oak bark,
reclining woman as Mt. Tamalpais,
amazons battling cumulus nimbus,
a smiley face emoji on Venus.

We cannot help but make things up,
turn Rorschach projections
into angels and clowns––
even the fin of a fish left on a plate
is devoured by a Michelin star
in the squint of an eye,

as we interpret and redefine
the world through imagination,
finding meaning where we make it,
making meaning where we find it.

(previously published in Mantis, Stanford University, 2017)


Under the Influence
A Poetic after the Cellist on Place des Vosges

Here. Take this photograph. It is Paris.

There. There is a woman turning sheets
of paged music. Look. She’s getting ready,
her legs hugging the cello bottom, fingers poised
at the polished sleek of the neck. Listen. A wheeze
and wail of gendarmes are racing the square
for some spy movie chase scene you’ll see.

Go away now–through that door behind her.
It is the house of Hugo. Touch the desk there
autographed for charity, Picasso and Stein
side-by-side. Come back now. Come here.
She’s about to pull in dusk air on strings.

Take a seat at the curb stone. Rummage
through your bag–through De Gaulle stamps,
artificial tears, baume pour les levres–get a tip.
Make notes on the post-it pad: Give her a name.
Call her Renee or Vivien. Take her photograph.

Wander into the droopy-eyed flash. Wonder
if she composes–under the influence
of red wine, French rain, shadow light–
some herstoriography of the real.

But don’t insult her with the loose change
of your vacation franc. Give her
what she wants, an audience. There is no
subscription fee. The series runs each night.
Performances will not be sold out.

Take this photograph. It is modern art,
under the influence
of a dialectic whose boundaries
are yet to be determined.

(First appeared in Her Mark Calendar, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL 2003)

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has appeared in Aeloian Harp, Blue Collar Review, Dallas Review, Progressive Magazine, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Her latest collection of poetry is Landings. . Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she founded and runs a Women’s Poetry Salon. She is also Features Editor at Poetry Magazine.

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