Monday, August 10, 2015

Elina Petrova: featured poet

Elina Petrova will be a featured poet at our off the page poetry series event on Wednesday, August 19 at 7pm.  Other poets include John Milkereit and Choonwha Moon.  Open mic at the conclusion of featured poets.  This event is free and is open to the public. Refreshments provided.

Until 2007, Elina Petrova lived and worked as an engineer- manager in Ukraine. She has numerous Russian and Ukrainian publication credits, and a book of Russian-language poems. Elina now works in a Houston law firm. She is a frequent featured reader at Rice University, and her poetry has been published in Texas Poetry Calendars, Illya’s Honey, Harbinger Asylum, FreeFall (Canada), Melancholy Hyperbole, Panoply, and the anthologies of the Houston and Austin poetry festivals. Her next publications are expected in the Texas Review and the upcoming Mutabilis Press anthology. She was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the post of 2015 Houston Poet Laureate. 


Her first book of poetry in English, Aching Miracle, has just been published and its official release is scheduled at River Oaks Bookstore on Sat, Sept. 19th.

 Worry Doll
(first appeared in “Best of Harbinger Asylum” Anthology, 2014)

On Christmas I listened to Pope Francis
and a Texan pastor whose wife, as we speak,
has been for seven weeks in intensive care.
Both of them talked about the power of prayer—
how to light inner peace from the higher candle
and soar above circumstances. A massive
children’s railroad hummed in the church lobby.
Tiny people waved from porches of marshmallow
-roofed cottages to a train passing the Alps.
Taller people snapped selfies with cellphones—
especially where the train on a flyover arrived
above plastic palms to the manger in Palestine.

So did I – mesmerized by snowflakes
and the promise of a delayed miracle.
Then I closed my eyes, and saw white antelopes
turning into nurses, walking soundlessly
in shoe covers into the ward of the pastor’s wife
to fix her plastic tubes. The light was harsh.
I wished peace to every soul, at least oblivion
kinder than the snow that meekly dressed
stacks of pale bodies slit up in Bosnia one distant winter—
I thought of things I didn’t mean to think this Christmas,
because my country split, and a million lighters
from night-to-night waved in the frosted square.

A little girl gave me her worry doll—
a tiny cloth doll, muñecas quitapenas,
to whom a child confided her unrequited prayers.
“Lay me under your pillow to have a good sleep”—
said the doll with the girl’s squeaky voice,
and continued in my undertone,
“I shall splash your worries in the waterfall
iridescent with tears of others. I shall
bring your phoenix egg through winged gardens
to the solar navel of the baby-Earth
where all that worried you will become my poem.”

~Elina Petrova

Texas Photos: Osan AB, 1969
(first appeared in Texas Poetry Calendar – 2014)

Better he’d gotten out of that bayou place
to not chase the hoodoo his daddy chased—
muck himself up in the Woodstock mud,
hit the road.
Then who would surface farm roads, fix the cars,
who’d buy a cabin for his sloe-eyed gal
when she gets pregnant?

Far from her cornfield near the old oil rig,
he wiped bony hands with a soiled rag,
smiled at lifers:
hairy torsos dismissed to Osan—
a softball tossed beside the airbase barn
housing a missile.
He gazed at these noisy, coarse men
and muttered thanks
for bringing ‘em all from Nam.

~Elina Petrova

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