Explore O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press offerings on Amazon.
Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.

Claudia Serea

Self-portrait on Independence Boulevard

Those who have nothing to lose by Pavel Filonov

I lived on Independence Boulevard, block 44,
stair B, apartment 31.

From the 5th floor window,
I could see the bread line snaking down the sidewalk
under the young linden trees
that cast almost no shadows.

There was an Alimentara
with shelves populated only by timeless jars
of peach compote
and cans of mackerel.

Next, a butcher store always closed
and an Aprozar
where dirty potatoes sprouted eyes
in their broken crates.

I grew up in that oblique gaze,

across from a garage of rusty public buses
and a plant that manufactured concrete wall panels.

Here I am, quiet, scrawny,
knee-scarred and pony-tailed,
feet strapped in brown leather and buckles
to metal, four-wheel roller skates,

gliding in the vast emptiness of Independence Boulevard
in my industrial city full of dust,

without knowing what lies beyond that horizon of cement,

rolling, rolling, rolling at high speed,
leaning into the wind.


About the writer:
Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet with poems and translations published in Field, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Puritan, Oxford Poetry, and elsewhere including O:JA&L. She is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Writing on the Walls at Night (Unsolicited Press, 2022). Serea won the Joanne Scott Kennedy Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia, the New Letters Readers Award, and the Franklin-Christoph Merit Award. Her poems have been translated in French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi and featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Her collection of selected poems translated into Arabic, Tonight I’ll Become a Lake into which You’ll Sink, was published in 2021. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month, serves on the board of The Red Wheelbarrow Poets, and co-hosts their monthly readings.

Image: Those who have nothing to lose by Pavel Filonov (1883-1941). Oil on paper. 37.9 x 30 inches. 1911. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.