Sudasi Clement

Sudasi Clement




it was my mother, Vesta

her given name a goddess name

it was the island where we left our i’s and e’s and o’s

it was grandfather Santo Francisco Clemente

saying, please, call me Clem

it was a girl giving birth at Holy Redeemer hospital

given a list of consecrated names

it was a neighbor going on too long about Jesus

after he noticed the Buddha in my garden

it was Buddha’s head falling off and rolling into manure

it was funny it was sacrilege it was me knowing

I was never gonna add that e back on

it was the breakup/the rekindling/the breakup

it was the Guru bestowing sacred names

as bells rang on the mountain

it was Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

on the long road to town at midnight

with a dog dying in the back seat

it was grandmother Laura Ruth Martin

and her six sisters with three names each

it was a twenty-one name salute

it was a room added onto a house I love too much to leave

it was wildfire wolfing down houses

just a few miles up the hill

it was me at two singing fire en-Jen Jen Jen Jen

loving the bright siren of sound

the energy of my name


The Bartender’s Daughter



the silvery jigger,

the shaker,

the strainer’s small slinky

pinned into place.

Her father, the alchemist,

mixing elixirs.

Long-handled spoons

twisted and tear-dropped,

swizzle sticks,

muddled mint,

crusty-capped bitters.

Lovely the low amber light,

briny olives

with snug red tongues.

She spins a pixie parasol

in a grenadine sea,

ponders mouse-sized swords  

posing as fruit picks.


Guided Meditation for the Inner Child


The voice says, picture a little child,

here, in the center of your body—

and there I am, about four, holding my doll

with her cherry lips and spidery eyelashes.

She was named for the prostitute in Zorba the Greek,

when my dad, with a mingling of alarm and glee,

noticed the likeness. He whispered to my mother,

she looks like Bouboulina! Oh, I heard. Bouboulina.

The name sang in my ears. Bouboulina, companion

in my first nightmare, where she and I played

in a car on a hill. The car began to move,

picking up speed until I awoke just before the crash.

My dream, this meditation, my young parents’

marriage, all gone off the rails.

When the guide suggests we observe

our feelings I’m surprised to find tears

careening down my cheeks.

Middle-Distance Runner


Springsteen’s Born to Run

used to loop through my head as I ran.

Decades later, out of shape and a half-mile in,

I’m stuck on a melody I finally identify as

The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be,

which makes me laugh, and triggers a stitch in my side.

That’s when I hear my old coach shout,

rub it out, rub it out! He tells me to drop my shoulders,

and when I struggle over the crest of a hill

to begin the inevitable decline

he reminds me to let gravity do the work—

advice I didn’t understand as a kid,

but now I get it, so I do.


Morning with Freezing Fog


There’s a nest of glass twigs in a white lace tree.

Albino hummingbird feathers cling to every branch.

On this fleeting ice-planet frozen clouds sail past—

spirits rowing east to west. There’s George waving

his unfinished poem, and Leslie the bee-keeper

trailing a wisp of ghost-bees. When sun breaks through

fog crystals don’t melt, they just drop from the trees

to dazzle and shine for a minute or two on earth.



Sudasi Clement was the poetry editor for the Santa Fe Literary Review from 2005-2015. Her poetry chapbook, The Bones We Have in Common, won Slipstreams’s 25th annual chapbook competition in 2012. Her paternal grandfather, Santo Clemente, emigrated to the states from Italy and settled in the Philadelphia area. Her parents met while working at Russo’s restaurant, which was owned and operated by her great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Wildwood, NJ, for 86 years.