Elisavietta Ritchie

Old Masters, We Love Skulls

We perch a skull
on a linen cloth,
folds tinged blue,
set on a stone
by a hermit’s cave,

We pile skulls
in pyramids like friends
bent close to decipher
by candlelight
archaic or forbidden texts.

The cranium bare,
no artifice, illusion,
we reinvent
the hapless fellow’s
character and life.

The eyes we paint
haunt galleries but
empty sockets emphasize
the absence, stare,
infinite dark wells.

Sinners, paupers, monks,
provide skulls on the cheap,
need no model’s fee, don’t
chatter, criticize, seduce or sneeze,
or break pose to eat or pee.


Searching Hong Kong for Chocolate, 1977

The Chinese word for chocolate
is indecipherable.

Booked alone in a tall hotel,
1977, caught in the interim

between two husbands, two lands,
two lovers distant and dying,

I must find chocolate,
or else a doppelganger—

To find poets my business here—
but everyone here in shipping and trade.

Any chocolate imported must
have melted away in the heat.

Few speak my language,
None know my name.

To discover chocolate, lover or poet,
would be like sighting a pistachio sundae

while lost in Mongolian desert wastes.
I hunt through streets pungent, molasses-thick…

My tongue bound in splints and rags,
loneliness wraps me in my blue sarong.


© Elisavietta Ritchie

Elisavietta Ritchie’s 17 books include Feathers, Or, Love on the Wing; Cormorant Beyond the Compost; Awaiting Permission to Land; Arc of the Storm; Elegy for the Other Woman; and Tightening The Circle Over Eel Country (won Great Lakes Colleges Association’s “New Writer’s Award”). The two poems included in this issue of Loch Raven Review, “Old Masters, We Love Skulls” and “Searching Hong Kong for Chocolate, 1977” appear in her latest book, Guy Wires (Poets’ Choice Publishing, 2015). “Searching Hong Kong for Chocolate, 1977” also appears in the anthology, Journeys Along the Silk Road, edited by Harry Yang (The Lost Tower Press, England, 2014).

Back to Main Loch Raven Review Site

1 thought on “Elisavietta Ritchie”

  1. grt poem re chocolate- a probing spirit here- by the way- that Russian painting of a huge pyramid of sculls

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s