Shelley Savren


Shelley Savren






Words inside the Storm

                            for Talia


Rain and the day opens

like fingers in a soaked palm.

As we drive north to Santa Barbara,

trees weep along the road

and umbrellas dot the sidewalk.

Silence sits between us.

Just the drone of wipers, mufflers

and the steady tin can beat of rain.


At Earthling Bookstore you bolt

to the back.  Picture books

and Berenstain Bears –

stuff you’re too old to read.  But you love

to imagine Papa Bear lost

in the rain asking pebbles for the way.

Stones carry secrets you once

told me, opening your fist.




There Has Always Been A Song

                            for Talia


Kids swarm the street like a garden of bees

as the ice cream man makes music

down the block.  Sun sweats

every forehead, every little lip.

I watch as you drip red

onto the grass, your chin.

Even your hair wears sticky juice.


Fifteen years and you drive away

with a CD blasting, suitcase full

of monologues and a friend’s old guitar.

A punk-hair boy with an earring

and black nails will teach you how to strum.


You call from the dorm.

Three drunk roommates sing

in the background and offer you a bottle,

but you’d rather slurp a popsicle

than beer.  Tonight you wrote a song.

That’s why you called.

There has always been a song.




Photo by Rollie Kenna


Anne Sexton, in her 30’s

leans back on her cloth-covered chair

with its plaid, curtained trim

and props her feet over her desk

against blue wallpaper.

She wears loose-fitting dark slacks,

a button-down white shirt, long-sleeves

cuffed up, and flats, probably without Peds.

Her dark hair is styled for the 50’s,

red lipstick, thin brows.


It’s morning and sheets of light

cover the corner of the floor.

She hasn’t begun her daily writing ritual

though everything is ready:

notebooks stacked beneath her desk,

piles on the fold-up table

next to the bookshelf.  Typewriter,

box of bare paper.


She’s taking a moment to be with Rollie,

looks to her left, into the camera,

not smiling yet, not ready for the shot.

It is 1961.  She’s just starting

to get noticed.  Publications, but

no Pulitzer yet.  Just beginning

to risk writing about stuff that will shame

the press.  Women’s stuff,

like abortion and masturbation.

The camera begins, as a bit of fear catches

in the corner of her mouth.













Shelley Savren’s poetry books are The Common Fire (Red Hen Press 2004) and The Wild Shine of Oranges (Tebot Bach Press 2013). She holds an M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles and is widely published in literary magazines. Her awards include:  nine California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants, three National Endowment for the Arts regional grants, five artist fellowships from the City of Ventura, first place in the 1994 John David Johnson Memorial Poetry Award and a Pushcart Prize nomination.  She is an English Professor Emeritus at Oxnard College and conducts workshops through California Poets in the Schools.

Articles similaires