Collection of Poems

Sucking on Honeycomb 

spit it out 

my grandmother says, concerned  

that I would choke on a piece of honeycomb  

I’d picked from the scraps in my lap. 

She’d started removing the wax 

before I was even born. 

Forty years of beekeeping  

and she still uses the same dull knife,  

the same metal comb  

with the cracked wooden handle.  

Every time she hands it to me, I stare,  

counting the splinters in her palms, 

her skin not that different  

from the wax she’d peel away. 

It has become a habit for me  

to watch her work,  

see her balance the frames on her knees, 

body bent forward, comb in hand. 

She’d said once  

that the echo of metal on honeyed wax 

was no different from the way  

my grandfather ate. 

Loud. Repetitive. Sweet. 

They’d started this labor together,  

learned how to spin frames,  

extract honey, alternating  

as they dipped their fingers 

into half empty jars. 

Now, she works alone. 

I sit with her, holding the tray of scraps, 

each piece, a memory.  

I place them on my tongue  

feel the honey melt away, 

making room for bitterness 

to roam around my mouth. 

What is left is slippery and brittle,  

an unrecognizable ball of thing 

a weight neither I, nor she, 

can spit out.




I crave the taste 

of a charcoal roasted pepper. 

Its flaky flesh  

and fractured skin 

scorched to a crust, 

peeled back to expose 

tender, broiled meat 

glazed with summer juice, 

thick and sticky  

on the tongue. 

The silent gasp  

of the pepper’s lung 

like the hiss 

of a hot air balloon 


by the lick 

of a stranded flame. 

Its sweet breath 

embracing the skin 

of my grandmother’s nose 

as she sits by a fire,  

where the tickle of the ash 

pastes to the hollow  

of her throat, 

building new skin 

where the membrane  

wouldn’t burn. 

Her knees pressed deep 

into her dormant 

fragile frame, 

bone against bone, 

just below  

her aching neck, 

where, folded in half, 

she sings to the pepper’s  

blistering tune, 

as her mother once did, 

and her mother’s mother too, 

when they served 

their warm labor 

on cold tables  

for lunch.



My Grandmother’s Garden  

On warm days, she washes her clothes  

with cold water,  

hoping her skin wouldn’t stain.  

She always takes her prescriptions dry.  

Eighteen pills a day  

and she still runs around the yard,  

kissing the soil she buries seeds in.  

On the windowsill in her room,  

there is a carton of yogurt. 

“На Баба” киселото мляко. 

In it, there is a mouthful of dirt.  

The first tomatoes have sprouted there, 

frilled leaves like dry tongues.  

She pets them with an open palm. 

She is old like the bees that died last spring.  

Unlike them, she does not love the spring.  

On the hottest days, she wears a purple hat 

and wants her ashes sewn into the earth. 

Sometimes, I pinch her chest,  

grind my knuckles in her back, 

find the spot that hurts the most 

and live there.