The Glass Piano

I was inspired to write the following poem while Philip Glass performed an etude from The Complete Piano Etudes, performed as part of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival.  In fact, I felt an urge to start a poetry project based on my observations of art and the world outside of myself, as in ekphrasis, to aid my internal compass as I navigate through the hours of my life.  I hope these poems will resonate with you.  The Glass Piano is the first one.

The Glass Piano
by Rebecca Danos

notes in life blur
rhythms in thoughts repeat
rhythms in hours repeat
rhythms in years repeat

until an Accent
a singular note resonates
in breath — steady — regular

and melody rises above
technique — the
by which we know
the next note
to play


I Choose

Originally posted on The Female Gaze.  Appearing with my brilliant, talented, and beautiful Wellesley sister, Tayo!


I Choose

I choose to part my lips
to open the hollow between my jaws
and let the air fly through my mouth
caressing my vocal folds
– organs of freedom
that allow my voice
to erupt in the primal scream
that is my singular Howl

I choose to sing my stories
both those that weep
and those that ascend the mountain
of my aspirations
harmonizing both
those that cross the bridge of sighs
but also those on paths alit
by the very secret stars I conceived

I choose to sway my body
and dance to the hymns
of my freedoms
of my dreams
of my rights
of my duties to my self
not of the preachings
of those who know me not

I choose to embrace my power —
that in my mind
and in my body
to craft my life
into a work of art
both original, yet flawed
in its humanity
steering to my destined point

I choose to accept my Self
as I am
a unit complete as myself
in all my choices
that colour this journey
paved in hues of every kind
mapping out a life
for my future & for my dreams

I choose to live by my principles
and those that govern me
that give me
my voice
my body
my power
my choice

Thanks to the Winnipeg Women’s Health Clinic. I became a professional writer with this piece because of you this year.

La Fleur

Below is a poem I sketched with some ideas in homage to Shakespeare (the idea of two becoming one), Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the idea of the flower), and On the Waterfront (the idea of being a contender).  I hope you enjoy this little poem!

La Fleur

withered outcast
a solitary souvenir
of the bullies’ playground
the Others who had incised
and marked
their twisted signatures of hate
cursing the once vital bark
to a solitary confinement
still seeking a glimmer
to nourish
and redeem the bleakness
pitched inside
the core’s decrepitude
an interior desiccation
hollowed of tears.

tap tap tap
an excruciating issuing
of her sap
the thin sallow remains
that she can proffer
those few to whom she pleas
a beggar she is
for companionship
to forget
for just a moment
her desolation
a drug
to assuage her seared skin

a tree that no longer a tree can be
a bending hunch
under the weight of Boreas
slim drooping branches
pecked by beaks
a home to parasitic thieves
robbing her of all that could have been
a contender in the game
instead of a target for Zeus’s arrows
abandoning her to an electric drought

on the horizon
the rim of the heavens
the tree glimpses beyond her arid ruins,
relics of a youthful neglect,
and spies a forest, a village of trees
lacking the deadened thirst
that fills her malnourished innards
and canvassing the sky with dreams

brave encounters
with amputations and inward probes
Others slicing and burning her branches
fairy embers of beauty
distilled from wounds
that, she wonders, might signal to her sisters
that she still stands
a flame
a gorgeous truth
conceived by her pain

the tree searches her roots
with wonders
at their sprawling tenuous nest
grounding her to her history
and hopes that someday she could produce
a thought, a seed,
to skip along with the Zephyr
a word to commune
and silence the assault of loneliness

one day
a Flower dances across the sky
an unforeseen solution
and kisses the tree’s broken bark
before sharing the tree’s soil
their roots intertwine
as they meet each onslaught
of the Others
splintering the hurts
and translating bruises
into a symbiosis
where two become one
always facing assailants

Closed String

This poem first appeared on Lake Waban Blue here.


This picture was taken at the California Institute of Technology where I hung out while I was studying string theory as a graduate student at UCLA.  I recently wrote this poem on a worldsheet.  If you look at the first line of each stanza, it describes a closed string (like a rubber band) sweeping out a worldsheet.  Strings, one-dimensional objects as opposed to point particles, are the smallest components in string theory, a theory which unifies all the forces.  Particles are created by the vibrations of the strings.  You can calculate string interactions using worldsheets, much like Feynman diagrams.  However, they smooth out singularities and remove infinities.

Life should be
an elegant routine
between the poles of the day

Of one dimension
Paths should be
a directed plan
a vector from the origin to the destination

Encircling a point
We should be
sharing our centers
to all dimensions

With a defined radius
our Family & Friends should be
attached and not abandoned
not to be left as singular

Of points around
our Knowledge should be
traversing from Vermeer to Britten
a mind’s voyage through space-time

Sweeping out a two-dimensional surface
our words should be
painting characters on the canvas
like the elegant solutions to equations

A worldsheet, a dynamic object
our minds should be
as we focus with discipline
and accept the charged currents of change

For a theory of everything
the forces between should be
though we are not
the theory is perfect.

What have you lost?

ucla Here is a little poem I wrote that was included in the inaugural issue of Lake Waban Blue, published here: What have you lost?

The image above is the UCLA Sculpture Garden.

 What have you lost?

Have you lost your youth?
Orange-pink and red residues across the morn
Orbs of lusty dew ready to be sipped
An eager skip onto the hidden trail
Ignorant of the ragged branches along the way
Chin angled up as Apollo ascends his place in the heavens

Have you lost a friend?
The one whose image never dissolves
She who no longer answers the letters
You once trod together down the hidden trail
Without foreboding of the division ahead
You hesitated, extracting a splinter, as she passed by

Have you lost your will?
A bed that beckons you to curl as a fetus
Engulfed in a warm surrender to sleep
Seduced by the sirens
No energy to hike the hidden trail
A craving for honeyed dreams

Have you lost your nerve?
Doubts bellow through your breast
As you yearn for a certainty than can never be
Do you dare down the hidden trail?
Questions pulse as anxious furies
Without answers, without knowing

Have you lost your voice?
Hoarse protests
And abandoned music
Filmy souvenirs from the hidden trail
But you listen, muted, to the myths in the photo
And welcome their harmonies, their challenges to you

But you don’t stop seeking answers along the hidden trail.
Despite the point and curve of the question mark
Finding that what is lost just waits to be found.
And what is fractured might yet be restored.