Ami Kaye

Ami Kaye 1


Ami Kaye is the author of What Hands Can Hold (2010). Her poems, reviews and articles have appeared in various journals and anthologies including Kentucky Review, Tiferet, East on Central, First Literary Review- East, Tears in the Fence, Cartier Street Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Peony Moon, Scottish Poetry Review, Diode Poetry Journal, and Iodine Poetry Journal, among others. Ami edited and published Sunrise from Blue Thunder in response to the Japan 2011 disasters, and co-edited First Water: Best of Pirene’s Fountain. Her work was nominated for the James B. Baker award, and received an honorable mention in the 2013 Tiferet contest. Ami is the publisher of Glass Lyre Press, and editor of Pirene’s Fountain.







The swell of gravity
collects a body of lightness
within its ample lungs

the whir of a hummingbird
sculpts the half-open blackness
from trees that hug the earth’s breast
in their clutching roots

and through them, wind, always wind,
and air

—elements that burn and
feed the fire—

and flow between the rocks and clouds
growing from tiny breaths
to full-blown sounds

in sweet convergence,
rush of air, invisible sigh

—a floating lightness
follows the trail of
a lonely, haunting piping

The moving shape of air
its ability to flow

creating pitch when
weaving in and out of tiny holes
in reeds and hollow wood

inhale, exhale, unraveling plaits of sound
the winds rearrange a new existence

and on the way they learn their voices
piccolo, flute, oboe , clarinet, bassoon


Glasswing Butterfly

Translucent wings linger
between stillness and breeze

catching the sun
like polished panes of tiffany glass.

From the chrysalis a damp body
unfolds a vaporous shimmer of silk,

its finely-etched veins spread
a muted radiance at the rim.

Zigzagging through cucumber vine
it hovers over a greening canopy

and settles on the bright flame of
a hibiscus, drinking deep from
its throat.

Barely holding in its brief sojourn
the decree to live, it skirts too close
to the deep, dangerous undergrowth.

Snagged by a twig, easily bruised,
the burn of a kiss on
sensitized skin,

its slow, whirring glide
casts a dark shadow on the
mossy stones below.

In diffused morning light
iridescent fractals dazzle the air,

even a brief life
in variations of song and silence
hoards the currency of joy.


Evening Raga

Evening is melody’s most flirtatious tune, foreplay to night, the loaded touch, the heady whisper more powerful than the word itself. As the sun retracts its gold, magenta and lavender petals burst from slate-colored stones, their fragrance becomes evening’s prism. Lotus-eyed Krishna, who has claimed Shyam for his own name, feels the raw silk rasp in each blade of grass against his blue-toned skin. The wind carries a fine moisture, cooling the air as evening readies its own concert. Even the sharpest pain seems to soften as thousand musical phrases pierce the heart with their weighted placement of the melodic, double-faced F note. The torture of waiting is made tolerable only with the promise of the beloved’s presence. The free-flowing sitar echoes the heart’s four-chambered thud. She arrives with a chink of glass bangles, carrying a kerosene lamp in her hands, gas-blue flame bronzing her features. Clusters of mulberries ripen at first touch, opening to heat. Rituals of love are evening’s domain, the infinite ways of love, the hunger of blood stirring the embers. The cloud-veiled moon finds her place in the sky, a muted Kohinoor, pale shadow of what she will become in the night.


Rejection Poem

You send him out in the world
fully clothed, hair brushed,
collar straight, face shining
as he steps forth on his perilous journey.

The four-eyed gatekeepers hold up
their staffs with pointed graphite tips,
that rest on circles of pink rubber.
They guard the entrance to the
promised land.

Sleepy-eyed, short-sighted, your little one returns,
a bit shame-faced because he did not make it in.

Welcome him home for he is tired,
cuddle him, plump him up if he is too lean.
But if you send him out too plump,
you may be told to carve some of those
adverbs and adjectives that make him bilious.

Don’t let him come back as if he has failed.
Tell him to keep trying, how there are more like him
than places to house them. Tell him about the sheer numbers
of those who arrive daily in hope.

Some of them are carried in Pushcarts, while some rock stars
zoom up in Pulitzers, and some rare ones are of a more
Nobel persuasion, but that does not mean all hope is lost.
He has his own voice, his own strength, his own place.

Hold him close to your bosom, happy to see him again before you send
him out again. For a space of time he is for your eyes only. You know
if you keep sending him out it will only be a matter of time. Don’t let
him ever give up.

See the other parent over there? She cries and wails and tells everyone she can
that her brainchild came back, wilted and crushed, returned from sender.

The neighbors hold her hand, and tell her they never deserved him anyway,
they try to make her feel better by calling the gatekeeper choice names.
A man sits in the dark watching her face. He says nothing.


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  1. Dear Lois, it is your voice that turns my words to poetry. You’re the pied piper; your words dance with an airy lightness, and I search the trail of your delicious melody. Deep thanks for your review, far more beautiful than the poems that prompted it!

  2. Like the woodwinds, each of these poems speak from different instruments but with the same exquisite breath. Breath is that manifestation of the soul perhaps which takes over the reader and allows us to feel each note. Whoever says they are not their poetry in some liminal fashion may not be telling the truth. I believe these poems are a reflection of this poet’s inner core, the music that she is. The “swell of gravity’ that “collects a body of lightness.” And isn’t she “wind, always wind” an element that burns and feeds our fires. She is the flow between the hard edges of the world and the soft underbelly of cloud. We converge in the trail of the lonely, haunting pipe, we follow her pitch and weave, we learn our own voices, the luminous notes of our being.


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