verona iris

the painter's poet
writings from onna hui

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Autumnal Rise

He stands close to the shore
feet just almost touching the water
He faces the sky and sea
stares into the distance
and I wonder where it is his eyes take him,
I wonder
is it to the same place where I seem to find
myself wandering
sometimes without so much a trail to lead me back
to the nowhere from which I come
I stretch out my legs
I watch from up nigh, at the cliffside
skin weathered and tinged with rose
her autumnal rise
I inhale, then let it out slowly
perhaps a breath, perhaps a cry welled from deep within
the taste of salt lingers on my lips
Sound of waves running into each other
the echoes of birds in flight
and I look at him
wondering if he and I are lost all the same.

Tres Noches

Bright is the company of a thousand stars
the eternal letters that spill from a sky of the deepest India ink
They roam through the endlessness that is night
and romance the unmoving with a consciousness as stirring 
as the heavens for which they announce
They convict in their illuminating, perpetuating silence
as our eyes wander heavenward, soliciting Him who hears the
quiver in our prayers, the tremble on our lips
Among the gold dots of this celestial map, 
our thoughts travel and we ruminate.

Quiet Somewhere

'Tis quiet somewhere.
Where the mind empties her tragedies
and the spirit tarries peacefully until the morrow,
where messengers of woe gain no entry
and languid travelers lay rest among the swallows.
A land I dream of nightly,
a dream I wait on daily.
'tis quiet here, my love
we shall fall asleep now.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Deliver the wild ocean, her salt water tears
a June moon and whispering stars
to a landing place west of the Carolinas
sit with me in a borrowed hour of languor
sit with me in stilled reprieve  
Time will move in slowly, casually
wander barefoot toward
the past until it is no longer present
as this quiet state of sapphire
undresses before our wicker chairs, then

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Our forest
our redwoods and pines
Our treehouse
our limbs intertwined
Our quiet, our haven
Our stow away from the noise, which abounds
loudly below
deafening, ever threatening
In our place above
we let down our guards
for each other.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


O River
I trouble you for one night's dip
as my parched soul aches for
a drown in your body's deepest quarters
Blistering summer heat deludes
imaginary golden orchards o'er thy sparkling springs
As I lie next to you, in the lush shallows of your
neighboring flower bed
I peer upward at our celestial company
The steady hum of your breathing
lulling these eyelids to heaviness
and before I drift away into the forever place
I make one last request:
Cover my naked body
its bleeding sores
with the softness of your
blue lullabies.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Remove the moon
remove the stars
wash thin their blinding glow
Weathered four-chamber vessel
birthed from the ocean's womb
returning to sea
moving in slow, quiet agony
The unlit night
its unsung victories
Through the darkness it journeys
into it, it moves gradually
Where the midnight sky
melts into a body of ebony
and a divider, there is not
Tis where this vessel will come undone
lay down its final sail
and surrender to the currents of an awaiting
Smaller it grows as it travels further
from sight and shore
until it blends O ever seamlessly
into distant earth
Traceless, still
forever floating
in the vastness of night and sea.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Illustration

We reached into the universe, this large open space above
our heads, in a room of no more than 400 square feet.
We imagined our stars, their galaxies and constellations.
We drew an entire evening sky with our fingertips.
He outlined a crescent moon among the specks of glowing
light, and I closed my eyes to see clearly our illustration.

It was brilliant.

Magnolia Tree

Magnolias sailing through an
endless body of cerulean
A melodious string of delicate notes
floating freely through the amber
Impending sorrows of future moments
temporarily suspended in the
observation of dancing, blossoming
white palms.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Imagining

She once wrote about a space teetering on the edge of absolute rawness: concrete flooring, exposed brick walls, overly tall windows, and high ceilings.  On a separate occasion, he also imagined a space quite similar in nature.  A place with an open floor plan and only a Japanese folding screen separating the industrial living space from the intimacy of a single bed tucked away in the corner.  When he told her about this, she saw her own imagining change slightly.  She no longer only saw herself in it, but she saw him in it, too.

She saw them together.

She saw an empty space surrounded by nothingness.  Nothingness was all they ever wanted, all they ever needed.  Because everything they wanted and needed was in each other.  It was morning.  Natural light made its way through the sectioned window panes and onto his pale skin, her tanned skin, their bare skin.  They were living in their own filtered projection.  

They were lying in a bed of wrinkled white sheets, creased by the previous night.  They welcomed the quietness of unspoken emotions.  There was nothing separating him from her, her from him.  His body, which was the perfect amount of heaviness, moved over hers and she shifted her weight to let him in completely.  She lifted her right hand and ran her fingers slowly down the side of his face.  He gently swept her hair to the side and they stared at each other without saying a word.  In that moment, time stood still for them.  They were together.  They were in love. 

They were complete.  They laid in their white bed for hours.


You deserve to find love, to be loved, and to live in love.

I wish you all the light in the universe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mister Houdini

He tiptoed into the garden most unexpectedly
with a rucksack of well-versed lines
and a pocket full of posies
He unlatched her iron gate with stealth as great
as the greatest unknown operative
charmed her with his sarcastic wits, bits, and a number of tricks
She let him into her bed of begonias
where they exchanged wild dreams and well-kept secrets
When they laughed, the earth shared in their happiness and
the universe painted a few more stars above their mortal bodies
He gradually became her heart's trusted gardener
a company for whom she extolled
Then, just as quickly as he entered through those iron gates
he disappeared into the world outside
swift like a thief in the night
Took his treasure and bag of loot
and exited the garden without saying a word
She suppressed her cries in that first hour
simply gathered the trampled flowers and looked around at the aloneness
with which she was left once again
And it was then she gave way to their reality
her garden, once so pure and void of harm's way
had fallen prey to the condition of a speeding heart
Like rain and thunder storming the earth in the midst of winter
she felt the harshness of her disposal
for the truth was she had been disposable to him
He left like the best of vanishing acts
and the greatest of all magicians
Mister Houdini, yes, Mister Houdini, you are
frightening indeed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Love Game

He stared at her.

They sat at the edge of his bed exchanging silent smiles, neither
one moving.  Eventually, she inched toward him.  She wrapped her
legs around his waist.  The warmth of his body felt like static to her
cold skin.

He ran his fingers through strands of her damp hair.  The sweet  scent
of milk and roses from her shower lingered in the space between them.

He hesitated for a brief moment.  "I love you," he murmured.  His
voice was soft, but firm.

It wasn't that she did not hear him.  She did.  With his words
suspended in air, she turned away.  When she turned back to look at
him, her expression had changed.  The corners of her mouth
reluctantly curled upward into a sad smile.

"No, I'm afraid you do not."

"Yes, I do."

She leaned over and whispered into his ear, "But it's not love."  With
that, she unwound herself from him.  He held onto her.

"How can you say that with such certainty?"

"Because I am certain."


"Because all of this"--she motioned at him, at her, at their surroundings--
"is only pretend."

Originally written in 2012
Published in 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Paper Crane

Paternal rumble
I hear your voice
anchoring the moment like a ship in an abyss
all hands on deck
that's what you said to me
And there we were, younger than we gave ourselves
credit for
lighting dreams like firecrackers on the new year
folding alive paper lions, tigers, and cranes

And then you left
flew above the trees you made us draw
and I was left
with the things that I did not say, things I could not say
because I was convinced
a flood of better days was coming and
denial got in the way of the truth
that you were leaving
and I choked on the words that were swimming in my mind
Like a dozen of koi fishes fighting in a shallow pond
they couldn't make their way to the surface in time

Oolong, Hennessy cognac, and menthol
your scent was unlike any other
I've pocketed it for keeps
take it out occasionally
to fill the space of this gaping hole you left

I hope you are well and enjoying eternity
I fold this paper crane and send it your way
with a pack of your favorite peppermint starlights

Safe sailing to forever, Grandfather.
You are greatly missed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Crutch

Some say faith is a crutch for the weak-minded.  I do not believe
that to be true.  I propose faith is an enabler--an enabler to do what
we couldn't do if we were left to ourselves. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


With the sound of the faucet running, she closed her eyes and patted
her face wet.  She remembered the passion-plum walls, the black
accents, and their ability to swallow her entire existence.  She recollected the
rolling scenes of a darkened evening sky, occasionally saturated by low-lit,
awkward orange street bulbs.  She recalled leaning against the bathroom door
frame and watching the shifting imagery project across her large bedroom
window and cast shadows onto the ceiling.  Like an old film reel. 
Sirens.  Periodic shouts.  It was beautiful, all of it.

She turned off the faucet.

Originally published in 2011
Revised in 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Condition

We met on the first evening of autumn that year.  The months 
following were spent in laughter, exploration, dance, and late-night 
sharing of each other's life story.

Then one day he said to me, "This can be forever if we let it."  His 
words were heavy, though genuine.  Yet somehow, I was unconvinced 
of us.

I polished off a glass of fizzy.  I picked at some invisible lint on my 
black jeans.  How faded they were in the unmasked light.

He reached for my hand.  I reached for something on the end table--
perhaps an excuse, perhaps another reason to continue being without 
a permanent condition.

We didn't talk for a few days.  We didn't see each other for a week.  
Eventually, it became a month.  Then a year passed.  Autumn came 
and went.

Yesterday marked the fifth year of our obsoletion.  I heard he married 
a pretty gal and started a family.  They are living somewhere overseas 
now.  He fancies her very much.  That is all I know.

We could have been each other's forever.
But I didn't believe it.
I didn't allow myself to believe it, or to believe him.

These days, autumn only reminds me of what I no longer have.


Originally written in 2012
Edited and published in 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Her Eden

Swinging on a tree
Branches strong in bark and leaves
She rocks back and forth

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Autumn came today.
She knocked on my door and we embraced each other.
When I had to leave for my 9-5 obligation, she blew kisses, which my cheeks caught;
the touch of her breath against my morning skin was as crisp as I remembered it to be.
Along my drive back home, I found one of her leaves wedged between my windshield
wipers--a love note.

I'm glad she's here for the next three months.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Let not the clock stop
or he won't arrive
For when those
rhythmic hands stand still
the postman dies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


There is a lullaby that sings to my hollow shell
her tune whose haunting melody
sounds off in measures and chords:

Lie awake in a bed of lies
for self-preservation, I preserve
the preservation of the worse kind.
Killer kills the weak
Self-preservation saves the strong.
Here in a bed of lies, I sink unto sleep.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Paint the wagon red
Paint the picket fence white
Paint the soil fertile and moist
Paint the willow weeping.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funeral and a Birthday

Carcasses on the interstate
birthday cake and candles
Minister bows his head for prayer
Horns honking, pinatas twirling
balloons float away
Stickers on their windows
cake in their stomachs
Funeral and a birthday.

Originally written and published in 2010
Revised in 2015

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Through my hair, onto my back
down my legs
trickling beads of warmth
Flushed body, oblong porcelain coffin
Orange light outside; tense, small
Showers are coming.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Catcher, Catch Her

One disappeared, then another disappeared
Twenty-six years traveled past these waned eyes
and developed a masochist
counting existences that once were, hollow now
Numbed flesh, traveling in one of two directions
Vessels lie underneath layers of dirt, ashes stored in urns
but their souls, only Father knows
Rich Man & Lazarus asking to be heard
grapple, grapple with pattern reoccurrences
Butterflies dancing between the flapping sheets hung out to dry
on the clothespin line
catch a short glimpse of beautiful colored wings
and then, mortal humanness; metamorphosis; oblivion
Porridge and biscuits bring the children home, sweet cottage nearby
Eat the morsels quickly before they turn gold
Leaving their muddied soles at the wide gate
young ones wear their innocence out to play
in the meadow they sing, they age
they run past the graveyard of bodies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Somewhere Yonder

When my time is called up yonder
and my weakened, deteriorating vessel lays again
with the crushed leaves and dirt of a fallen Mother Earth,
shed no tears for me.  
The demons cannot reach me here; I am safe.
My soul has found its permanent home in my Father's house.
Peace engulfs my once heavy heart; fear persists no more.
And when the next rain falls,
catch the drop that kisses your cheek
and know that my ashes swirl in the path of this wind to reach you
with a message I fought to send long ago:
life has finally freed her prisoner.