Poems by Jane Likha Yatco


An ‘Exceptionalist’ Undoer of Knots

“Our Lady, Undoer of Knots in hearts, in minds, Mother of the King of Peace, pray for us. Make us STRONG.”—Sylvia L. Mayuga (a.k.a. Sylvia Morningstar)

“I feel sorry for Rudy that he can’t love this country the way it is. I love America even with assholes like him living in it. In fact, I’m immensely proud of our assholes; I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. If that makes me an exceptionalist, I plead guilty.”
—Matt Tabbi

(For Nelly Miricioiu after last night’s homecoming recital)

you made applause your audience’s choice
as you sang verse after verse
of verses with music
to tenderize
the syllables

how can we NOT feel like applauding,
we who have been starved of reasons
to be put our hands together, to be happy
about anything in a country
half going to the attack dogs
of war and greed?

last night you strengthened me
you made us all strong
you undid, flattened
and smoothened
the knots
of tension
of grief
over the madness
of traffic, of national
and personal debts,
of dissent between brothers

what did i hear,
what did the rest of us hear
our ears earlier primed
to hear a human voice
but instead heard
the flutter of butterfly wings
rosebuds persuaded to
open in the light of dawn
windows stained
by a rainfall of tears

you are home now,
oh lady
of the notes
and lyrics
that the Master’s
hand wrote
let our land love you
back the way a lover
kisses an envelope
sealed with passion
before sending it off
to cross miles
to reach the Beloved

Quiet, Ordinary

“Happiness is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent.”
—Virginia Woolf

(For Joseph)

did you receive my message
about incorporating ourselves
into Making Dreams Happen,

you haven’t replied,
but i understand
i know how there are
children at home
and in the recital hall
to attend to
honoraria, rentals,
credit card bills to be

how aware i am
about these straitened
–ha! straight-jacketed–
conditions under which
schemers lovers dreamers
the truest artistes

reason, restraint,
a full measure of
self-control must
prevail before
even implanting
a dream of roses
and music in our
heads again,
before elusive
sleep finally shushes

what calms you and i
are the most ordinary
things–pen newly
dipped in a fount
of indigo ink,
lavender cream
rubbed onto veined
and wearied hands,
a locket too quiet,
too shy
to remind you
that a melody has


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