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Three Shells in a Bowl: Poems by Juan Pablo Mobili

sandy beach, image by axe20, on Pixabay

The Crickets

The crickets from the afternoon shift

are livelier than they’ve been in a long time,

they are good friends of my whole family,

they helped us negotiate more than one

interminable silence and uncertainty,

those times you’d swear you lived

in a small village,

with an unexploded bomb

in the town square.

Our relationship goes way back

when years, it’s already a long time

months, borderline long

and days, still a fresh wound.

When fire only brought us ashes,

when we buried our grief

because there were no bodies to bury,

when closure got stuck in traffic

and we went back to living

before it could arrive,

with an unexploded bomb in our throats.


Three Shells in a Bowl

The three shells in the big bowl

at the center of the table, by now

more than memories, are seeds.

After dinner, I sometimes stop

to put my ear to one of the three shells,

to listen to that moment

when I built sand towers with my bucket

at the edge of the towel

where my mother

sat to watch over me.

We discarded much over the years,

all kinds of things, but also words

that journeyed from meaningful

to meaningless and back again.

Over the years we bloomed into this family

that talks or does not talk, but dines together.

While the world spins shining and stumbling

at unequal intervals, our dinners are a reminder

that we have not existed in vain.

The three shells have made it so far,

more than memories, they are seeds

still blooming in the bowl.


The Healing

(for Howard Swank)

He worked at a steel mill

rolling hot metal,

then he bought a farm

and became a grape farmer.

Hard work was not his problem

but work that mattered was.

Desire is molten material,

it can’t be taken lightly.

It must be handled with respect,

it will burn resignation to the ground.

Soon the grapes began to sing to him

their sweet and tart chants.

You might even say

they chose to bless him.


Juan Pablo Mobili was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and

is an adopted son of the city of New York. The son of a teacher

and a poet, what he loves and what troubles him as a citizen

of one family and two countries bears its presence in his work.

His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in The

Journal of American Poetry, The Worcester Review, First Literary Review-East, The Red Wheelbarrow Review, Mason Street Review, and the New Feathers Anthology, among others. In addition to that, his poetry received an Honorable Mention by the International Human Rights Art Festival, nominations for the Best of the Net 2020 Anthology, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, 2020. He also co-wrote a chapbook of poems in collaboration with Madalasa Mobili, Three Unknown Poets, published by Seranam Press.

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