Category Archives: Poetry

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #64


The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #64 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 15 January 2023


How to Use Mindfulness for PTSD | VeryWell

Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.


Guide Me: How Can I Prevent the Next Migraine Attack? | Migraine Again

It’s easier to prevent a migraine attack than treat one. Discover evidence-based strategies for prevention, including natural and alternative remedies.

Trauma and Sexual Abuse

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Trauma Survivors | Psychology Today

Trauma survivors struggle to take care of their mental health as much as their physical health, but this should be prioritized in the new year. Unmet needs in childhood often manifest in adulthood, leading to unhealthy behavior patterns-but 2023 can be the year to start unpacking.

RAINN Online Hotline

Do you need help dealing with sexual assault, rape, or incest? Call @RAINN ‘s Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Don’t feel comfortable talking? Use chat/text instead.

Mental Health

How to spot an eating disorder | Psyche

When you are close to someone – a family member, a romantic partner, a longtime friend – you are likely to be fairly attuned to subtle changes in behaviour that could signal a shift in that person’s wellbeing. For many people, these changes are connected to eating.

How to Start a Self-Care Journal | Read Poetry

If you’re a writer, chances are you have a stack of journals tucked away in the back of your closet, likely filled with memories, heartbreaks, and musings. Many of us as a means of self-care to process thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But have you ever created a journal solely for self-care?


Awards: Best Memoirs of 2022 | SheReads

Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Memoir of 2022. The winner of the Best Memoir of 2022 is . .

Cooking and Baking

30 Easy Bread Recipes for Beginner Bakers | Taste of Home

Baking bread is more popular (and easier) than ever! If you’re new to it, don’t be intimidated. Consider these easy bread recipes and become the baker you always knew you could be! Be sure to check out our ultimate bread baking guide, too.

My Books

While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

Each night, standing in the hallway at the open / door of the bedroom, I see you lying in the / fading light, his arms around you, your head on his / chest, his lips against your hair, and I want to tell / you everything. 

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

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The Butcher Birds

Each morning as we walk the farm’s perimeter,
we find victims of the butcher birds: grasshoppers,

beetles, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, impaled on cactus
spines, thorns, or barbed wire. Sometimes we see one of the

birds itself, perched on a branch or fence-line, the black
mask around its eyes and hooked beak resembling the

masks of my childhood heroes. My daughter doesn’t
like the look of it, and she doesn’t want it to

shriek: she wants it to sing like other birds. She can’t
understand why I won’t let her take down the bird’s

victims. While I try to explain about nature’s
laws, about marking territory and mating

rituals and survival of the fittest, she
keeps on trying to grab hold of the barbed wire, the

cactus spines, or the thorns, trying to free the dead.
One day, when we come across a grasshopper, still

alive though impaled, his kicking legs frantic, my
daughter becomes hysterical, not believing

there is no chance for him to survive. For the rest
of the day, she is inconsolable. She sobs

over her mashed potatoes at dinner, and then
buries her face against my wife’s neck and shoulder.

In the night, her cries wake us. The murmur of my
wife’s voice, woven with my daughter’s sobs, reaches me

through the walls like the hum of my father’s voice through
the walls of my childhood home in the summer of

1969 when young boys from small towns all
over the country were coming home in boxes.

Others came home without arms, without legs, without
any light in their eyes. We thought the ones who came

home in one piece were the lucky ones, but even
they were broken, pierced by butcher birds on the far

side of the world. That was when my brother came home,
right after I turned thirteen, and we thought the war

was over for us. But my brother was damaged
in ways no one could see, impaled on his jungle

memories.  One rainy morning, he went behind
the barn, put his pistol to his head, and slipped free

of whatever had caught him. I was the one who
found him. My father collapsed under the weight of

his tears, my mother rarely spoke afterward, and I
learned to hold my breath, to feel my way around sharp

corners, to keep watch during all the long dark nights.
When my wife comes back after soothing our daughter,

she says I mustn’t take the child with me when I
walk the farm, I must protect her from the butcher

birds’ atrocities, I must check all the barbed wire
and the thorn bushes around the house, and I must

remove the dead. All the dead. She doesn’t want our
daughter to grow up traumatized, and she thinks that,

somehow, I can protect her. The next morning at
breakfast, our daughter seems herself again, singing

to her doll between bites of oatmeal, twirling her
dark hair into ringlets around her finger. When

I finish my coffee and try to leave without
her, she objects. When my wife tries to explain, our

daughter cries and stomps her foot. My wife urges me
to go on alone. I am halfway across the

yard when the door slams, and I turn to see my wife
on the porch, holding our daughter by the waist. She

is so angry, our five-year-old daughter, caught in
that soft, maternal vise. No words could describe the

desperation of her anger, the helplessness
of her fury, her face contorted with tears and

shrieks, her tiny arms straining toward me, her weightless
legs kick, kick, kicking the heavy and blameless air.

Related Posts
Read some of my other poems,
and excerpts from Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

Auggie Vernon and the Eclipse

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Field Trip to the Serpent Mound

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  Day followed day, and this and that Seemed to be happening As always, but through it all Already loneliness was seeping. Anna Ahkmatova I ...
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Portrait of the Poet as a Woman

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Your second wife calls to say that the children get ill after you bring them home Sunday night it must be something they eat what ...
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Should, Should Not

Should, Should Not

after a poem by Czeslaw Milosz A woman should not love a man, but if she does, she should keep the child of their breath ...
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The Lies Our Parents Tell Us

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The Lies Our Parents Tell Us begin in childhood: you're not dumb, you were not an accident, the sight of you doesn't make us sick, ...
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The Toast

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To God, Who did not save us. (after a poem by Anna Ahkmatova) Let’s drink a toast to this dreadful old house, filled with lost ...
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While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment… or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are ...
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The Butcher Birds

The Butcher Birds

Each morning as we walk the farm's perimeter, we find victims of the butcher birds: grasshoppers, beetles, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, impaled on cactus spines, ...
Continue reading

© 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman.
May not be reprinted or excerpted without written permission.
Please do not support piracy of Intellectual Property.
This is a new poem: it does not appear in Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

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