Gedda Ilves









A bullet flies

without asking for a target.


Love flames suddenly,

music touches a heart,


every string begins to sing

like an Orpheus harp –


out of the song

spins a poem.


I follow the words blindly,

think of Verlaine and Rimbaud


when desire burns the senses,

blunts the reason;


of Kafka who at last

must have found a respite,


could have come out of the

darkness of his life coffin;


of Marina Tsvetaeva,

her explosive poetry;


the legacy of their genius,

passions, despair, ungranted hopes.


I scribble the words,

I am still present;


my heart follows the pen

with crowded thoughts;


after a night’s sleep,

sky pales, stars turn


on the other side

of their night shelter;


my woman calls me to bed

she doesn’t understand


the ecstasy of creation,

the opening of a bloom,


the transformation

of thoughts onto paper,


the little time

left for me;


this earth

that nurtures


has seen myriads of lives

unfold and die,


I have to hurry,

death arrives without invitation.






Back in the city

I lived and loved

before its destruction.


Our neighbors still there;

I stop by the fence,

they don’t remember me.


The mother in the yard

where jonquils bloomed full force

looks at me unknowingly.


I remind her of the years

when air smelled of roses

and strangers greeted each other.


She embraces me and sobs:

husband and son killed

by people they thought were friends.


We go to the cemetery:


tiny patches of grass,

no alleys I walked as a girl

and gathered blue lupins,


graves crowded like teeth

in a piranha’s mouth.






The movement starts

with dissonant loud chords,

atonal, changing into lyrical largo;


followed by chords in mezzo forte

ending with a mischievous

pizzicato of strings.


The tempo changes to

allegro vivace,

the chords become assertive,

escalating to fortissimo;


quick passages, harried arpeggios,

glissandos, accompanied by

contra basses, drums


introducing disturbing music

ending in strong repeated chords

by full orchestra.


It begins to slow down to andante,

adagio, finally lento,

lingers a moment,


















Gedda Ilves was born in Harbin, North China. Lived in Shanghai during WWII, and came to Los Angeles in 1951. Her first book of poems « grains of life » was published in 2005; « a view from within » published in 2008 and « interval » in 2011. In 2006 she received the Editor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from and the International Library of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in several literary journals and four anthologies. She is the recipient of awards from the London Book Festival, Los Angeles Book Festival (runner up), and was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards for 2012. Her fourth book of poems « at the threshold » received the Paris Book Festival Award (runner up) in 2015.


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