Clara Hsu



From Dallas to Istanbul



“Boarding First Class Passengers.”

     Will the elite please be seated.

           “Don’t you know me by now?  I really don’t care.”


Boy bouncing up and down on the automatic walkway.

     Starbucks’ Earl Gray.  Gulp it down.  Tall, Grande, Venti, whatever—lifestyle, sophistication—they mean.

          “Turkish tea, apple tea, Nescafé?”


Line forming.  Into the tunnel of no return.

     All we like sheep, have (not) gone astray...husbands, wives, friends, lovers,
businessmen, doctors, lawyers, architects, contractors, teachers, musicians, artists, babies.  Poet.



Old man with breasts.  Backpack, shorts, tennis shoes.

     My father’s breasts are naturally aged.

          “My hands on yours...”


Beep.  You passed.  Beep.  Beep.

     How many affairs do you need?  Who’s keeping score?  Have I passed?  Am I a poet now?

          “Get a life, you say?”


The corridor is strangely quiet.

     Like the heart.  It knows.

          “I knew from the moment I set eyes on you.”


Caution.  Slippery when wet.





     One.  The body is an extension of the mind and it is beautiful.

          “I love you I love you I...”


The stewardess cannot (will not) help you with your luggage.

     Suddenly there are two worlds.  Us vs. them.

          “We cannot get rid of the people around us, those boring, dull people who rob us the pleasures of life.”


“Did you order a special meal?” she asked, coldly.

     What about drugs?  Never tried though got high on second hand pot smoke once.

     My daughter's boyfriend told me to eat some psychedelic mushrooms.  A few bites would take me into the altered state.



“Fasten your seatbelt.”  The machine said.  It’s all machine from Dallas to Istanbul.

     Peter, we must meet up after your session with Hilary Clinton.  I understand.  Work first.  But S.F—D.C.—IST!  What synchronistic serendipity!

          “And we must get used to not being together.”  signed, me.





Ma said no.

Pa said please

She said, oh no,

Pa said love

was all she said.


Said she, no no,

Pa's pa said don’t tease

Ma’s ma said,

I’ll freeze

no, was all she said.


Ma and Ma’s ma

Pa and Pa’s pa

and Ma’s ma’s mama

back through the long, long ages

all said no, oh no no no

Pa said Marry…

was all they said.



(collaboration with JF)



I have
  a rose
a drop
of your perfume
on my arm
    in a wee amber glass vial
for anyone
other than myself
    to be steeped
but enough
to remind me
    and I
by a subtle
    let it
that you
have entered my life
    enfold us
    the air 
and cannot easily
is heavy with love



(collaboration with JF)



At the stroke of midnight

    We are the Magi
we cross over into a vast space

    arriving with gifts
with objects unformed

    for that which we do not
and names unknown

only desire is made stronger

by the presence of a star

    leads us
the same star

    and ignorant Love
that has been guiding us

    We are the unknowing

since all the forgotten years.

    monarchs of nothing
It is bright in the new night
    arriving in the morning

ever enchanting

    of the New
we have far to go

    We have far to go,
and much to do.

    Magic drives us.


(collaboration with JF)

Winter Seed


There’s no light


she doesn’t believe

in the light



deep freeze




until the insistent sun





Like Cereal

            Like Ceres


So much stuff within the confinement

To: The Girl

limitless for the imagination

Between this breath

one cockcrow another inferno

and the next

a net that spreads wide catching

a moth escapes through

a worm here a bell there

your lips

the heart, oh the heart is weak

It flutters toward the evening light

under the hypnotic drone.

gets caught on the gauze curtain 

On and on it races against the train


the whistle!  A warning a wakeup call

Death means do not disturb

a vision an invitation to a dance

The next breeze

trees with their roots facing the sky

sends the moth into the garden

long-feathered leaves piercing

I glimpse a shape dancing

a crown down earth down to home

feathers plumage rising from its bone mask

down into an alcove of cracked nerves.


Is it true after all we are water

Is it you?

just plain old water not wine not juice

Is it you?

and when we are sucked dry we

Is it you?

become clay / broken little pieces of grey stuff when scattered

The fog is writhing down the hill

onto the forest floor they whiten

In a moment all turns milky white

the surface like snow.



The Poetry Hotel

At the Civic Center Bart Station
Carlos, Dan and I had a vision
to take possession of the Mission Street Marriott
after we win the lottery.

We will renovate the building
knock everything down to its bones.
With imagination, joy, and persistence
we give birth to the Poetry Hotel.

When you enter the Poetry Hotel,
observe the grand reception hall.
Poets check in with a poem
check out with a new chapbook.

The ground floor is reserved for first drafts
the second floor is for revision.
From the third to the twentieth floor
there are chutes and ladders built especially
for the out of bound writers.

All the rooms have the essential
desk, chair and bed,
an unlimited supply of paper, and
ink gel pens to write.

There are numerous libraries
each named after a poet.
Collection of works are readily available
for reference, research and read.

As for dining, the Poetry Café
serves daily a scrumptious buffet.
Muffins, puddings and all sorts of pies,
thick soups, black coffee, exotic teas
to nurture the poetic belly.

Every evening there is a gathering
new and old poems are read.
Cakes and champagne are served afterwards
to celebrate the creation of words.

This enterprise is run so successfully
it is franchised throughout the world.
All the poets in this planet
come home to the Poetry Hotel.

Carlos, Dan and I blinked
as we stepped into the train.
It was filled with sleepy people
who wanted to get home quick.

Days of work and nights of toil
weaken our eyes and hearts
But tonight we lay the cornerstone
for the Poetry Hotel.





The Cemetery Of Love

Over the little green hill
is the cemetery of love
where long marriages are buried
and illicit affairs are burned
where the remains of artists and poets
commingle bone on bone
and every night a bonfire
to incinerate the last of the churning.

When I die I want to be taken
to the cemetery of love
where the green hill rolls down
into a dale with a tree and a pond
there my bones must be thrown
helter-skelter, kiss the earth with a final thump
and may my thighbone land on yours
oh my passionate lover friend.






Things That Are And Things That Dream

Cool air rushes in from an open window.
    The curtain fringes waver:  yes/no.
Gulls cry
     like babies in distress.  Such sorrow as they
     circle a slow dance above the minarets.
Inside Sinan's courtyard
     his handprints heavy under each ancient brick.
Shape of a tulip
     a young girl with headscarf, her long waist leaning
for a butterfly kiss.
The half moon
     separates things that are and things that dream
     holds them upon her face.
The cobblestone street
     whoever walked here today has appeared and disappeared.
Earlier on, an orange cat put his paws on my knees.
     You said it is in search of love.
     I said it is lonely.
Things that are
have no need for us.
Things that dream
are what we're made of.






Copyright 2012 Clara Hsu


Clara Hsu is a poet who has an affinity for the Sahara, who loves spices and often experiments with her cooking, especially if she has guests over. She is the keeper of the Poetry Hotel---a hotel of the imagination---that features a real monthly salon; and co-hosts the San Francisco Poetry Open Mike Podcast TV Show with videographer, John Rhodes. Visit her website: and blog: