Gloria Vando's third book of poems, Shadows and Supposes (Arte Pùblico Press, University of Houston), won the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award and the 2003 Best Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. She has won numerous other awards and fellowships and her poems have appeared in many magazines, anthologies, texts, and have been adapted for the stage and presented at Lincoln Center and Off-Broadway. Her work is included in the new CD collection, Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work, 1888-2006, which features poets from the dawn of sound-recording to the current day. It has just been nominated for a Grammy!

She is publisher and editor of Helicon Nine Editions, a non-profit literary press she founded 30 years ago, and for which she received the Kansas Governors Arts Award and an Editors Grant from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines. She has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and many State Arts Councils, and as a judge for the National Book Series Awards. In 1992 she and her husband, Bill Hickok, founded The Writers Place, a literary center in Kansas City.


I enter the clearing
the way we sometimes enter dreams,
the door to the afternoon
clicking behind me,
caution setting like a sun.

On my own, I stand in the center
of this hard-edged lawn,
dwarfed and domed
by a neutered sky, and wonder
how long it would take to turn
me into stone, dust, song—
a process rousing itself
with every incarnation.

When we were children, we’d
whirl each other around,
our skirts unfurling
like these 5,000 banners
waving from the dead—
then we’d let go

and each spun form
would freeze at a command,
breath and laughter chiseled
into pillars, like the headstones here—
exclamations marking
each life’s absurd spin, guffawing
in perfect unison,
in perfect deadly rows.


Gloria Vando Moonday poetry reading

gloria vando high heel shoe poem



On a train, going backward, I watch
what I've already passed, see what's
about to appear superimposed on
my husband's glasses. The world melds
into a wild collage: steeples bridge

evergreens, skies tear mountains apart
with their eyes, rococo gargoyles claw
my back, float like Chagall goats over
mansard roofs and crenelated towers.
I want to preserve each moment-my life,

like the photos I take, layered with innuendo,
possibility curtsying in a three-way mirror
at some unlived yet remembered dream.
Myths, Sagan calls them, those things
that never happened, yet are and always

will be-and here I am, neither myth
nor mythmaker, speeding backward from
my ancestor the mite to some assignation
in the future when what's about to come
might have already come and gone.



He keeps a short rein on her,
showering her with beepers,
cell phones, walkie-talkies,
so when he casts her off, her
primaries can only take her
so far—the lure, the quarry,
merely illusions he flushes for
her edification. He is master,
wielding the bow net, wearing
the gauntlet. When he whistles
she returns at once, offering
her slim ankles one at a time
for the jesses, her head bowed
for the hood. At home
he’s installed an elaborate
intercom so he can hear her
breathe, hear her bate,
hear her sizzle as she screams
through the night air, spiraling
with him in her dreams.


© 2006 Gloria Vando

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