Snow on the Brain

Snow on the Brain

Artwork by Marguerite McDonald

The very first sighting
was a fistful of specks,
a flurry
of confetti
or ash.

We call it
Snow on the brain
the doctor tells me
(shrouding the truth
in beauty and mystery
and mesmerizing

He says it again,
Snow on the brain

but by now I am


– Published in The Healing Muse Marylou DiPietro

Snow on the Brain video



Artwork by Marguerite McDonald

The eye hides
inside the skull’s planet,
buried deep
like a seed or a stone.

There is one vision,
one hand to cast a shadow,
one clearly defined line
running along the lid
of one woman’s life.

One single ramification.

Below the eyes
a murky triangle
of white has surfaced,
a merciless reminder
of the senses which have
not yet petered out;
a wedge of brilliant red
marks the entrance
to the triumphant throat.

Through it all
the questions come
like the relentless wave
of a tsunami:

How does one live
without the body?

How does one learn
the power of looking
in, instead of out?

How does one speak the truth
when words have turned to ashes?
How does one row
to the gates of heaven,
or even hell,
when there are no oars,
there is no boat?

How does one
continue to find
the will to beat
the drum
when the
has ended?

How does one
the magnificence
of nothing,

as it stands before us
in this single

this mind
which matters
more than anything else

and which remains
perfectly intact,
light years beyond
that which we call
the body?

– Published in The Healing Muse Marylou DiPietro

Snow on the Brain video

There Must Be Something

There must be something to this dreaming,
every day I wake staring
at the same high ceiling, thinking,
There must be something to this dreaming.

Since it is only right there be blossoms
in Spring, fruits and berries in July,
selfless harvests in the heart of Autumn,
There must be something to this dreaming.

It is only fair this bell inside me
should start up ringing. That I should
not pare down my small fruit of a life
inside this thin white shell

of continuous breaking
of day after day after
night, in the endless gathering
of new light, with no real light
at the crack of day.

If there is no fruit growing
from the palms of my hands,
if there is no harvest at the end
of this long hard day,

There still must be something
to this dreaming.

– Published in The Moosehead Review Marylou DiPietro

Portrait of the Painter Zakovsek

Mr. Schiele, you have painted a portrait
that leans in my direction,
an angle, sharp on the page.

A scarecrow, slanted and sad, posing
for birds:
bones, knuckles, wrists;
he cups his cheek
inside his hand’s hay

the empty hand
hangs straight out
in air.

Buttons on his coat
fade into texture, like eyes
into face,
melon soft
and hollow.

His long thin neck
can barely hold
his head, so it rests
inside his small fist.

Not even the swan
holds its head
with such cold
grace, such

Undershirt buttoned to ribs like skin,
pelvis, heart-shaped and woman-like.
The wrinkles in his clothes fold neatly
into the page,
old and grey, like newspaper
someone used to wrap fish in.

His body empties and runs down his sleeve,
left side first, dripping thin. He is
a tree top, leaning, and broken at the hips

– Published in Poetry Fullerton Marylou DiPietro

La Petite Mort

In hotel rooms where
are firmer than
and sheets
yellow when
we fall between
the crevice of
is only
step away
that sharp corner where
shoulders and
toes mark
the very end
of your
bed is so
like an army cot
and we are caught
in a crevice
a canyon
in yellow sheets
and yellowing
like old skin
you touch me and
coming like
on me like
some ancient ceiling
and all I can close
are my eyes
are in your head
when I open them
when I open
and you fall in.

– Published in Syracuse Poems Marylou DiPietro

Sheila Shea

I don’t care what you say
about Sheila Shea,
her teeth
rotted out,
her hair
silver gray.
Say anything you like,
“She is skinny as a rail
and damn
she was pretty
in her day.”

Poor old Sheila
no pity for her now,
a few rough sticks
over her bending head,
the farm
almost down
to nothing
never had a man
to work the chores
though Sheila
could sow half the fields
of Kerry (by her own
hand) in a day.

Age comes too fast
being alone.
Sheila sat
for hours
watching the sea
come just so far
before turning back
into itself.

You can talk about Sheila
even here, as she waits for the nurse
to dispense the injections.
Tell her to her soft rippled face,
her eyes wet stones
from Ballinskelligs Bay.

Her hands folded calmly
around themselves.
Tell her she was a fool
all these years
for closing out the world.

I don’t care what you say
about Sheila Shea
as she bends her gentle head
away from you now.
Patient Sheila
smiles, her eyes
turned down, shy as a girl
looking at her hands.

She wants to hide
the wild blackberries
she has gathered from the fields,
she wants to hide their sweetness
against the floral pattern
of her tattered frock.

– Published in Negative Capability Marylou DiPietro

Aunt Nell Dreaming

Aunt Nell Dreaming see published poem by same title

Collage by Mary Dauphinais


I catch you
rushing against the wind, the reeds
bend opposite, the lines
around your mouth draw deep
against the sun.

You hold your hands together
to protect them from the cold,
making yourself
a circle.

I dream of returning
from Ballinskelligs Strand
with three small shells
in my hand
(“They look like eyes,”
you said, “two for seeing
in, and one for seeing out.”
“Chinese hats”, I said.)


After tea
you inspect the leaves
that stick
like tiny birds’ feet
along the inside slope
of your bone-fine cup

As if
from behind a window
you look up, surprised
to see me so near
your thoughts, you say, “Sometimes
the leaves make nice figures.”


Sitting by the fire
your head drops forward
like a marionette’s

I stop reading
and search your chest
for breathing.

A string of beads
hangs between your fingers,
a wooden crucifix rests
in the shallow valley
of your green
cotton dress.


Last night, while the wind
railed against the cliff
below the house, you dreamed
a cross so clear you could feel it
between your fingers.

In the morning
you woke, hearing yourself say,
first to yourself, then to me,

“The nails are too short,
the nails are too short.”

– Published in Crone’s Nest Marylou DiPietro

Intelligent Design

It happened on the day
we stood upright
for the very first time

coming face to face
with our mirror image

coming eye to eye
with that
which we would
come to name:

man and woman,
Adam and Eve,
the one and only
original sinners,
the human being.

Was it our own reflection
we fell head over heels
in love with?

Did the possibility of love
and passion and sexual
arrive fortuitously
on the scene
when, at long last,
the male beast
no longer came at his mate
armed and dangerous
from behind?

Is it any accident
that gazing into our lover’s eyes
can cause a wave to swell
deep inside our belly?

And that our lover’s scent
can cause our limbs
to twinge, and
without warning

And that the lips of humans
possess more nerve cells
than in any other part of the body?

Would the human race
exist at all if the very first
woman (let’s call her Eve
for the sake of argument)
had not decided, for whatever reason,
to stand on her own two feet?
Bringing her pelvis
upright with her, tilting
her she-sex forward.

Was it on this
seminal and
ungodly moment,
when one man
and one woman,
stood face to face,
that all
of humanity
was conceived?

– Published in The Northern New England Review Marylou DiPietro

African Violets

African violets
bloom in kitchens.

Tiny hair filaments
fuzz their wings,
unbearable to touch.

Pink petals,
like silk skirts,
keep them from being wild.

– Published in The Syracuse Review Marylou DiPietro


I wake, enormous, and in the pit of things.
Children are crying in the distance,
children who have not been fed for days,
their mothers’ breasts have gone cold
in their lips. Pigeons eat the crumbs they crave.

I wait for mother

Four purple candles are set
in a wreath upon the mantel.
My sisters and I are angels,
together we feel the pit,
the sad, lonely grasp of things.

The fruit grows around me
and toward me like a moon.
The skin tightens in wrinkles
like a giant wet leaf
around the world.
The children have lost themselves
in the snow, the drizzle, the gossiping night,
and the angels fly high above the oaks.

All at once, clouds fall, killing the trees.
The children stop crying, they are relieved
and in flight. The crumbs mean almost nothing now.

Soon they return into the folds of things:
into the bindings of books, pressed
between shoe and foot, along the rims
of hats. They hang themselves on clotheslines
for six whole days, as if to be washed in rain.
On Sunday they go to church.

I wait for mother.

– Published in Southern Poetry Review Marylou DiPietro

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