missing vocabulary



I wish there was a word for that feeling of wishing you had a part

in the happy memories of someone you care about (perhaps too) deeply.


It comes with a surge of envy for those that do,

and a queer ache in the chest,

and sometimes even a pricking of the eyelids.

A stab of sadness that feels utterly at odds with the happiness of their memory.


I’d hand you that word with my palms wide open — like a gift —

to show you my aching, and how I wish to be more/closer/deeper a part of you.

–Charla M. DelaCuadra



Dog Songs

While I was blissfully meandering in a bookstore in Seattle, I stumbled upon Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs.  I find her work to be meditative, insightful, and beautiful, and this slender volume about dogs did not disappoint.

Some of the poems seem to be simple, lyrical observations, but gradually you find yourself drawn into contemplations about life, love, and the simple joys and sorrows of being.  I read the whole book in a single quiet afternoon, my dogs sleeping at my feet — and in hindsight, I cannot think of a more restorative way to spend a Saturday.  Oliver’s keen eye and unabashed incorporation of nature into the fiber of her life make Dog Songs a unique entry in the canine companion poetry milieu.  A quietly moving read.

bowl of cherries


dark and sweet
as your kiss
the one I want and cannot have

but right now
I have this taste of summer
on my tongue
feet bare
in front of this kitchen sink
spitting seeds as the sun slants
liquid-slick and ephemeral
as the bitter finish on my tongue
so pink and so lonely
for the company of yours

cherries in summer
(just like you)
always leave me wanting more
slightly dissatisfied
but also grateful
for the sweetness they bring

a skirt and a bra, honey
and I’ve got a mouth full of summer
so melancholy for the memory
of this moment
before it is even gone


–Charla M. DelaCuadra
Photo via WolfBlur


San Francisco, 2018






She craves the raspy-nothing of sandpaper

to free her from




To open her to the light flash whiteness of wider, more infinite









Sun to bleach her bones.


Cravings unsated, raw.

Itching for release





–Charla M. DelaCuadra




My mom, my grandfather, and me, 1983

stretching in the feeble new sunlight

of a fresh dawn

hazy-bright with fledgling possibilities

to be coaxed into being

gently, hopefully

cradled and sheltered

are new chances


While I decided long ago that having children was not for me, I will always be awed and grateful for my mom and all she does.  Not only is she one of the most selfless women I know, but it takes a special kind of bravery to reinvent oneself, to work on one’s flaws, and to examine one’s life and say, “I want something better.”  I wrote this poem for my mother a while ago and wanted to share it here, in the spirit of spring and of celebrating nurturing women everywhere.





What is the nature of wanting?

Of contentment?

How can those slippery not-quite things

be found?

be sated?

be kept?

be held on to?

–Charla M. DelaCuadra


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about disquiet, and about contentment and happiness.  As we step forward into the week, here is a poem I wrote some time ago, compact in size but broad in scope.  Some thoughts to ponder.


Daddy and me, 1982


so passes

the golden autumn

of this world

into a dark/light place

made of lengthening shadows

and warm tender moments alike.

poignant relief marks the passing

of each second and season,

pearls on a string slipping away

through fingers

roughened by time,

all the more cherished

for that which has gnarled them.

fear not,

though a shadow passes over your eyes

at the thought

of things unknown.

in the end,

you are loved.

–Charla M. DelaCuadra


One of the difficulties in getting older is watching your parents age.  It is bittersweet, getting to know your parents better as adults and as people, while also watching the twilight years of someone you love.  I wrote this poem with my dad in mind, who is in his eighties and is having some health issues.  While we all struggle with things like money, our houses or vacation time, or our goals both long-term and fleeting — I think in the end, we all just want to be loved.