Issue 2 – Summer 2002 – Janine Canan

Janine Canan



Akhmatova, the oriole is always grieving-
is she happy or sad?
Silver willow sliced to a stump.

She suddenly came out of that trance so common to us all,
and whispered in my ear (everybody spoke in whispers there): 
“Can you describe this?”

Lyre that became a rattle.
Incinerating your poems, 
you bellowed a shroud over Stalingrad.

And I said, “Yes, I can.” 
Then something like the shadow of a smile 
crossed what had once been her face.

Today in Saint Petersburg the snow drips
off your bronze eyelids.
And the stars above-are they happy or sad?

Vermilion Flower

Emily Dickinson is staying at home. She’s wearing her white eyelet 
dress, wandering in her night-garden, composing a poem. Her 
father sleeps. Emily Dickinson writes a letter to Mr. Higginson. Is it 
any good, Sir?
 she laughs. She’s been growing many years now,
pulling up weeds from China, sighting a lark over France, stunned
by the evening sun in her backyard as Amherst turns past-the
opal herd, the amber farm. Emily Dickinson has a solemn face. Her
eyes are very strange. They’re dark and look inward and out. Stars
sparkle in the back of her head. In her hand-the vermilion flower

Cargo of Dreams

The dreams have run 
their course.
The dreams that stood 
at attention melted.
The poignant dreams dried 
out and crumbled.
The windy dreams blew away.
Dreams that bled, 
dreams of aching splendor,
rosy caressing flesh-colored dreams-
all dissolved in the river, 
the river that never stops flowing,
carrying its invisible cargo of dreams….



Janine Canan is the author of twelve collections of poetry. Her work has been been published in dozens of anthologies. Her most recent volume is Changing Woman . She has translated Star in My Forehead: Selected Poems by Else Lasker-Schueler, and has edited several other collections, including the award-winning She Rises like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess by Contemporary American Women Poets, and The Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness: Last Words of Lynn Lonidier. Forthcoming in 2002 are: Divine Nectar: The Words of Ammachi, a series of short stories illustrated by Cristina Biaggi, Journeys with Justine, and In the Palace of Creation: Selected Poems by Janine Canan, 1969-1999. A Stanford and NYU Medical School graduate, Dr. Canan is a practicing psychiatrist in Sonoma, California. Visit her web page at