Perie Longo


Author Photo: Stacy Byers.








Before his parting this earth, I saw

hundreds of spiders in the shower risen

from the drain. I put on my glasses

to my own suffer of hair, ran fingers

through diminishing strands, more

in my hands. “Honey, look!” I rushed


into the bedroom where he lay bald

in his chemo state, breathing shallow.

“For me?” he smiled, hazy-eyed,

turning my cruel vanity around

with a kick. We rested awhile, wet

with what was left of each other.


When the bottom dropped out, I drove

to the vitamin store, asked the clerk

for solution to my dandelion head gone

to seed,  nothing but a bird’s nest,

I wept. She lifted from the shelf

a purple bottle of pills labeled,


“Beautiful Hair,” as if the color

would redeem my royal callousness,

the capsules replace my light-

headedness or the touch of his hand

through my once crowning glory

which grew thick again mattering less


and less as months dragged on.

One night I dreamed my head full of feathers,

a great bird struggling to break free.



Previously published in Baggage Claim. Cincinnati, OH: WordTech Editions. © 2014.




Something Small


Let me write something small

to fit into this large life

or something large

to fit into my small life


or something bold to help me

find strength

like my husband’s last breath

or yesterday’s red sunset behind

the black peaks


or was it the black peaks

leaning against that vast red wall


Self inside self, are you dying

like the sun or more alive than ever

waiting for the light?



Previously published in With Nothing behind but Sky: a journey through grief. Santa Barbara, CA: Artamo Press, 2006.




Cliffs of Moher, County Clare


Flight has dropped you right where the Ireland calendar

on your kitchen wall left you thousands of miles ago,

and since Dublin, days more of a good dose of twists


and turns. Walking the precipitous edge of the cliffs,

the day full sun, in the distance row upon row

of birds roost in eon-chewed niches. You peer down


to better hear the swish-swash below after the sea’s crash

against the walls still forging the ridge. At the drop,

stomach churns like the spume inside the blue whorl.


You back off at the sign posting Danger, lives lost

slipping over. A woman in a wheelchair

poised too close, gazes out, a man holding her firm.


Perhaps this view a last wish. Suddenly flashes of white

like flung arrows distract, fulmars and kittiwakes

playing like children, gliding the spray.


They whiz toward the dark cliff rise,

then tour j’eté back to sea in a kind of tease—

coming home, just kidding— like exultations


of souls unbound from flesh. What else can you do

but run toward the tower at the very tip

and lift, all wing and weave.











Perie Longo, Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, California (2007-2009), has published four books of poetry, the latest titled Baggage Claim (2014). Other titles are Milking the Earth, The Privacy of Wind, and With Nothing behind but Sky: a journey through grief. Her work has appeared in Askew, Atlanta Review, Bosque, Connecticut Review, International Poetry Review, Miramar Magazine, Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, South Carolina Review and other journals, anthologies and texts. She teaches poetry privately and for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. As a psychotherapist, she integrates poetry for healing and is poetry chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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