Ava C. Cipri

The Red Shoes Ghazal

At her patron’s parish, Karen covets the red shoes
Only entertaining pirouettes in red shoes.

Seen first on a princess exiting her grand carriage,
Next the cobbler’s window, she can’t forget the red shoes.

A perfect fit, turning from home, from land, herself,
She lets the dancer loose, and renounces the red shoes.

Who was at the scene of the crime pleading
Don’t play Russian roulette with red shoes?

Last stop: The executioner’s chopping block—repent.
Ava knell, the curtain falls on Death’s duet in red shoes.



In the evening, we are bound
on the wheel of an endless conversation.
We lie under the sheet. Side by side,
face to face, on a screen
as wide as this . . .
I grope for the titles, an unsaid word
when I close my eyes. Our whole life.

You think I find words for everything


To love, to move perpetually
from Morning-Glory to Petersburg
for a Russian poet. Last night you wrote
on the wall: Revolution’s Poetry
like this together, afterward parting
your letter: the photograph of the unmade bed.


Lately in dreams, my mouth hovers
in those years . . .
a dark woman, head bent
and now
peeling onions
after dark,
from here on, all of us will be living
in my imagination. I was the pivot
of a fresh beginning.

You are beside me like a wall


*This cento is a found poem culled from Adrienne Rich’s titles in Collected Early Poems, W. W. Norton & Company (1993).




Ava C. Cipri is a poetry editor for The Deaf Poets Society: An Online Journal of Disability Literature & Art. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University; her poetry and prose appears or is forthcoming in Crab FatdecomPFRiGG, Menacing Hedge, and Rust + Moth, among others. Ava’s first chapbook Queen of Swords is forthcoming fall 2017 from dancing girl press. She resides at: www.avaccipri.com and tweets at @AvaCCipri