longing for Italia

In a few days will leave for a much needed dose of Italia. Will spend time in Tuscany and Umbria, our usual haunts; also for the first time will visit Bologna. I’ve written several poems inspired by past visits, upon ancient tiles, rain in the piazza, as when you were here, among them. I am so looking forward to this break from the every day routine, and the inspiration it provides to reflect, write, and recharge. Oh, yes, and to eat. It’s all about eating. Mangia!






I want to touch someone
and be touched in return
to feel the soft skin again
warm and good
But it is not mine now
only the memory of it
once a thing I knew
now in a place I know
is not there
but look anyway
hoping to find it
believing anything
is possible

©Daniel von der Embse

roller coaster

Words drink too much,
turn the conversation
into broken glass –
brittle, bloody

Some careless thing
gets held onto,
an act once shaken off,
becomes unforgiveable

the riding up and down
becomes too much
and we resolve there’s no use,

That’s when tears come,
feeling that unhappy together
is more bearable
than miserable apart

We have learned
how to make room
for each other
on the roller coaster,

to keep our places,
hold onto our seats,
so that we might learn
to love the ride





©Daniel von der Embse

comfort of home & Britten’s Phantasy

The “phantasy” referred to in this poem is the Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings, Op. 2, by Benjamin Britten. My daughter played this piece in her senior recital at Oberlin. (This You Tube recording is not her, but is very beautifully performed.)

A phantasy is playing
too quiet to hear
until I use my heart
to really listen

Spirits lifted by pure sound
I arrive just in time
to turn around and go again
until I can’t tell where

Is this home?
It looks familiar through the tears,
but I cannot stay long –
it is time to run back
to the song that is my real home,

where I can rest unafraid
to greet the sadness
awaiting with sweet comfort
upon my return

Poem ©Daniel von der Embse

remembering another September 11


I’m reposting this poem to mark a different anniversary: It was 39 years ago that I met the woman who became my best friend and, later, my wife. It took another 23 years after we met for us to become life partners, and I have thrown more curve balls her way than Sandy Koufax, but I am so grateful that our relationship has endured so much for so long. This poem is about the day we met, and our first and only date, on her eighteenth birthday, 39 years ago.

there you were (for Gina)

Big hair and bare midriff
a creature from another world
lounging on the steps of the student union

Who are you?
Where do you come from?
Questions for another time

For now we sit and smoke and I imagine
how it must feel slow dancing with you
my body held tight by your runner’s frame

On your eighteenth birthday
we get high over the barber shop
where I hope to keep you up
all night celebrating

You are exotic in black underwear
leaving me completely powerless
But I am not the lover you imagined

You wish me goodnight
not saying if you will return
only that you will see me again
on the steps of the student union

©Daniel von der Embse