Hélène Cardona







A House Like a Ship


I live in a house like a ship

       at times on land, at times on ocean.

I will myself into existence

       surrender, invite grace in.

I heed the call of the siren.

       On the phantom ship

I don’t know if I’m wave

       or cloud, undine or seagull.

Lashed by winds, I cling tight to the mast.

       Few return from the journey.

I now wear the memory of nothingness

       a piece of white sail wrapped like second skin.



From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)




Twisting the Moon


              Now is the time to know

              that all you do is sacred.



We shared the coast of Maine in June,

       hundreds of whales, lobster

              sandwiches, buttermilk pancakes

                     and a room in Bar Harbor with antique tub.

They’re now a cloister of shadows loved,

       goldsmith of the music of time.

              She left when circumstances met.

I dream of offering her strawberries on sacred moons,

       healed by the beauty of memories,

              ready to start over as if knowing nothing.



From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)



Winter Horse


              What kind of a horse?

              A miraculous kind of horse.

                            —Steven Spielberg


I dream for a living —

glimmer at the edge of life,

a clock with many hands,

shape-shifter moving through different worlds.

I sail on the endeavor, captain musician,

not knowing whether I’m a ghost.

I take the road

to the end of the skyline.

My mother blows directions in my ear

from the other side.

The spokes of the wheel loosen

amidst thoughts like windstorms

containing all humanity.

I manifest fulfilled in the land of shadows,

resilient winter horse.



From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)



Life in Suspension on the Salmon Poetry website


Life in Suspension on Amazon





The Magician


Good night, the mellifluous whisper

catches me like a vine,

wraps itself around my will.

I stare at violet eyes,

unanswered prayer,

key to the music room.

I slip out of mind,

sucked into the flower fairy.

I become a dream.


The snowcapped mountains blend

into clouds, brushed by wind like whitened

sand, haunted Indian landscape,

hypnotic, soothsayer, all

the faces buried there, sculpted

alive, shape shifting, urging

me, remember who you are,

step outside of time,

choose to feed the white wolf.


I lie in darkness

engulfed by angels’ music,

intoxicated with lavender.

All is light and legend.

I sink deeper, circle higher

until I don’t exist.


Inside tears after rain,

dawn arises, rays

of light flood my wings.

Mist and pain dissolve, I burst

into joy melting down all expectations.


Strange and unusual every circumstance.

The Magician home, I know

my structure remains intact

and refuses to budge.

Thank everyone and everything I’m still here.

The Devil so sweet, I welcome change.

The clock untangled,

at the bottom of the dry slope

cobra, wolf and coyote greet me:

I’m reborn into a Peruvian horse.





From Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013)


Dreaming My Animal Selves on the Salmon Poetry website


Dreaming My Animal Selves on Amazon





Le Songe de mes Âmes Animales chez Amazon













Hélène Cardona’s books include three poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves (both from Salmon Poetry); and the translations Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), winner of a Hemingway Grant; Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne); The Birnam Wood by her father José Manuel Cardona (forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2018); and, with Yves Lambrecht, Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb.  


She has also translated Rimbaud, Baudelaire, René Depestre, Ernest Pépin, Aloysius Bertrand, Maram Al-Masri, Eric Sarner, Jean-Claude Renard, Nicolas Grenier, Jacques Crickillon, and Christiane Singer.


She contributes essays to The London Magazine, co-edits Plume and Fulcrum, holds a master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, worked as a translator for the Canadian Embassy in Paris, and taught at Hamilton College and LMU.


Publications include Washington Square Review, World Literature Today, Poetry International, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Dublin Review of Books, The Brooklyn Rail, Drunken Boat, Asymptote and The Warwick Review, The Los Angeles Review and elsewhere.


Hélène had roles in Chocolat, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Muppets Mst Wanted, Happy Feet 2 and Mumford. For Serendipity she co-wrote with director Peter Chelsom and composer Alan Silvestri the song Lucienne, which she also sang.  










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