Poems by Elvis Alves

For Victims of Natural Catastrophes

We cross the river to the other side where a mother

and child wait for the sun before going forward. The


new day a promise fulfilled to them. And us. So we

celebrate life every day because a catastrophe can


happen without a moment’s notice. Uprooting. To

transport the will where it does not want to go.


A stubbornness unfamiliar only in its familiarity,

like a counterpart that is part of the whole.


Life happens with intrusions. It is true that every-

thing breaks and needs fixing. An answer that precedes


the question that births it. There is a fate

that becomes you and that you need to make


a home of, with walls of hope that let love in.


Saint Coltrane


Lost in the stars, any sound means life.

Humanity pulls, as it grows, from the unknown.

What title you give it wares away into oblivion.


Shine as wisdom’s incisive cut—know this above

all else.


Music is a spaceship. It travels beyond the ears,

and into the heart. Into the soul.


Dig there with might. Find what you may, there.

Dance with the rhythm of life.


Out of life’s chaos, create rhythm and not order.

This will help you move along—a path, a journey—


or something of the kind.


Pray to Saint Coltrane on the way. He who knows

joy and pain—they are in his music.




There is no heart here. If there is one, it beats irregularly.

What wakes to the call of the day meets the same fate as he


who refuses to rouse from sleep, a dream or body holding in

place that whose fate lies somewhere else but draws close with


the passing of time. The heart that beats on its own, or because

it is tugged, lends a paradigm that obstructs the truth its subject


begs to know. Yes, the heart can be a shallow pond. Or a river or

ocean that knows the depth of love.

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Elvis Alves  is the author of Bitter Melon (2013), Ota Benga (2017), and I Am No Battlefield But A Forest Of Trees Growing (2018), winner of the Jacopone da Todi poetry book prize. Elvis lives in New York City with his family.