Happy Mother’s Day

When I was in university this was one of the poems my professor made us read, I must have read it about ten times the first time I read it. In awe of how a poet can capture so much in one poem. This is one of my favourites poems about being a mother, which turns into being a woman, and a lover. The way great poetry should. You always start off with one thought and then the poem becomes another.


Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful women, struggling every day, emotionally, financially and spiritually to raise your children.


Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons
The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
as if you were walking on the beach
and found a diamond
as big as a shoe;
as if
you had just built a wooden table
and the smell of sawdust was in the air,
your hands dry and woody;
as if
you had eluded
the man in the dark hat who had been following you
all week;
the relief
of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
playing the chords of
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to,
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair
         walked into carpeted houses
         and left me alone
         with bare floors and a few books
I want to thank my mother
for working every day
in a drab office
in garages and water companies
cutting the cream out of her coffee at 40
to lose weight, her heavy body
writing its delicate bookkeeper’s ledgers
alone, with no man to look at her face,
her body, her prematurely white hair
in love
         I want to thank
my mother for working and always paying for
my piano lessons
before she paid the Bank of America loan
or bought the groceries
or had our old rattling Ford repaired.
I was a quiet child,
afraid of walking into a store alone,
afraid of the water,
the sun,
the dirty weeds in back yards,
afraid of my mother’s bad breath,
and afraid of my father’s occasional visits home,
knowing he would leave again;
afraid of not having any money,
afraid of my clumsy body,
that I knew
         no one would ever love
But I played my way
on the old upright piano
obtained for $10,
played my way through fear,
through ugliness,
through growing up in a world of dime-store purchases,
and a desire to love
a loveless world.
I played my way through an ugly face
and lonely afternoons, days, evenings, nights,
mornings even, empty
as a rusty coffee can,
played my way through the rustles of spring
and wanted everything around me to shimmer like the narrow tide
on a flat beach at sunset in Southern California,
I played my way through
an empty father’s hat in my mother’s closet
and a bed she slept on only one side of,
never wrinkling an inch of
the other side,
I played my way through honors in school,
the only place I could
       the classroom,
       or at my piano lessons, Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary always
       singing the most for my talents,
       as if I had thrown some part of my body away upon entering
       her house
       and was now searching every ivory case
       of the keyboard, slipping my fingers over black
       ridges and around smooth rocks,
       wondering where I had lost my bloody organs,
       or my mouth which sometimes opened
       like a California poppy,
       wide and with contrasts
       beautiful in sweeping fields,
       entirely closed morning and night,
I played my way from age to age,
but they all seemed ageless
or perhaps always
old and lonely,
wanting only one thing, surrounded by the dusty bitter-smelling
leaves of orange trees,
wanting only to be touched by a man who loved me,
who would be there every night
to put his large strong hand over my shoulder,
whose hips I would wake up against in the morning,
whose mustaches might brush a face asleep,
dreaming of pianos that made the sound of Mozart
and Schubert without demanding
that life suck everything
out of you each day,
without demanding the emptiness
of a timid little life.
I want to thank my mother
for letting me wake her up sometimes at 6 in the morning
when I practiced my lessons
and for making sure I had a piano
to lay my school books down on, every afternoon.
I haven’t touched the piano in 10 years,
perhaps in fear that what little love I’ve been able to
pick, like lint, out of the corners of pockets,
will get lost,
slide away,
into the terribly empty cavern of me
if I ever open it all the way up again.
Love is a man
with a mustache
gently holding me every night,
always being there when I need to touch him;
he could not know the painfully loud
music from the past that
his loving stops from pounding, banging,
battering through my brain,
which does its best to destroy the precarious gray matter when I
am alone;
he does not hear Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary singing for me,
liking the sound of my lesson this week,
telling me,
confirming what my teacher says,
that I have a gift for the piano
few of her other pupils had.
When I touch the man
I love,
I want to thank my mother for giving me
piano lessons
all those years,
keeping the memory of Beethoven,
a deaf tortured man,
in mind;
            of the beauty that can come
from even an ugly
Diane Wakoski, “Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons” from Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Diane Wakoski. Reprinted


in my next lifetime

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Love & Vodka – A book review

Thank you, Nicole, for this wonderful and touching review of my poetry book, Love & Vodka. I am extremely humbled and honoured.

The Lithium Chronicles

I was lucky enough to snag a signed copy of Christina Strigas’ Love & Vodka, and even now, days after closing the book, I am still love drunk on her words.

Charles Bukowski said, “genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way” and if we take him at his word then Christina Strigas is indeed in the same league of genius as old Hank himself.

In Love & Vodka Christina manages to evoke an overwhelming feeling of urgency while simultaneously reaching out to stroke comfort into the soul. She interweaves chaos and calm so well that our own fleeting and/or rapid changing emotions can’t help but bubble to the surface. Christina has captured loss and grief almost as beautifully as she celebrates love and resilience.

The depth of her poetry is astounding. With surgical like precision she cuts a word here, places another there…

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I want to be silenced with kisses

upon kisses that take away all the emptiness

in some loud downtown club

with glass and hope.

where we can’t even hear ourselves speak

because the music is more important

than conversation.

who wants to talk anyway?

about what? how miserable

life is, how hopeful you want it to be?

how people think all this is real?

how Ikea is lonely?

all this magic and no one to cast a spell

on me. all this truth and no one

to say it to. all these lies and no one

to bullshit to. I will always want you

and that is what souls do

when they connect, they have this

memory we can’t keep track of

and in the middle of the day

when you are on the way to

do this or that, you just lay

flat on your face in your car

listening to the same song on repeat

ignoring incoming calls of where the fuck are you

and trying to find tissues in some parking lot

where other strangers seem to be doing

what you are,

holding on for dear life

lonely and tired of the rush.

the age is getting to me

the time it is entering my notions

of what I could never be

such idiotic thoughts

I can never hide from

and no amount of clubs

will stop the mind

so just kiss me quickly

and erase the doubt

in your mind

I may not say it enough


I love you.

All the things I do


I love you.

And you can’t even be bothered

to notice

how passionately I love


that keeps on leaving me.

On call

Waiting for the tiles 5,99 a sq ft

trunk is open

boxes are filled up with all colors

of the future

zen me up to Buddha

he has my grout

in an abundance of worthless forests.

I came upon myself

while you were shouting

how bad I am at everything I do

and that’s when I knew

I am not ever going to get

the kind of love

I always wanted

so I write you out of my life

but you know every button

that makes me weak

my switches

to turn me on.

I hate this love

I am crazy

for cement.

I need no sky.
I am feeling worthless

please leave

my self-esteem out of this.

My poem is about 

how no man or woman

should be together

for long.

Moments are what I can count

on my fingers now.

Mostly bad ones.

Making Love vs Fucking

If you want to know the truth

I think you meant to make love to me

but your body wanted to fuck.

You started off with honey black kisses

and lover with dark hearts

need only fucking

to drive away the making love.

You just say making love

to appease the romantic in me

the truth is you are just

another man ready to fuck

with his body full

and his mind on my ass.

It’s fine

honestly, I am guilty

of fucking myself

and making love is so far

from my mind

that I left the rose petals

in my book.

If you want to make love

let’s talk about it

if you want to fuck

let’s be silent.

I went in circles

from one extreme to the other

but we all know

fucking and making love

have fine lines in the sand

and only a few know

the difference.

My Oxymoron

Drowning on cement

while no one

sees the ocean but me.

I feel the salt on my skin

alongside your imaginary kisses.

Many women and men

would die to be

in our position.

We can write with our eyes closed

our hearts open

ready to be diagnosed

analyzed. I can write with

my legs spread wide and

your pen on my thighs.

I can breathe better behind

the typewriter

less sighs

more moans.

I wish I could never leave

this place. It makes me weary

to have to stop writing

and continue on with life.

Must I really eat?

Live inside one room?

Must I talk to people I dislike?

Below my surface

there are no categories

or boundaries. Below my

waist there are your hands

grasping tightly

as I run away.

I can join teams but

I am always alone

in my thoughts.


This photo of me

is not really me

I lied

I am not who I am.

I made it up

and no amount

of talking

can hide the tears

I see falling from skies

and mistakes.

I’m a big tiny


with no more pens

in my closet.