Pieces of Days by Valentina Gnup

By Valentina Gnup

All we have are the pieces of days we collect

like tulips in a jar on the kitchen table—

the tart taste of wine from a metal cup

on a picnic with a friend,

the way yellow chalk coated the fingers

of our favorite teacher.

We did nothing to deserve these denim skies,

the red-tailed hawk circling

like a halo above the shaken world.

Someone said every poem is an elegy,

I think every poem has a hidden stanza—

This hour under the late autumn leaves will pass,

loneliness is the room you’ll return to,

but not now, not yet.



A California native, Valentina Gnup received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles in 2002. In 2019 she won the Lascaux Prize in Poetry; in 2015 she won the Rattle Reader’s Choice Award; in 2011 she won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award; and in 2009 she won the Joy Harjo Poetry Award from Cutthroat, Journal of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals including December, Brooklyn Review, Nimrod, and The New Guard. She lives in Oakland, CA, and teaches high school English.