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Antonia Alexandra Klimenko


Under the Umbrella




I stand in my birthday suit doing the nature dance

under the light and the dark of the moon

I turn in my skin, the skin I came in–

revolving with the planets, with the seasons

with the broken umbrella outside my door

I turn in my skin, the skin I came in

and in the skin of my skin, slowly turning



that melting metamorphosis

that shelters interconnecting veins


like railings in New York subways;

that protects blood-rivers and other living landscapes–

mirrors I will reflect but never see


who through thick and thin

records and traces with her zillion fingertips

the history of my life in Braille

who sloughs herself off as the caterpillar

or unveiling onion

then moves on without me

like the moon

like all things luminous

that leave always a sliver of themselves behind


Oh, skin!

Sometimes, I think there are so many of you!

Like a cat

I want to lick you clean

like a lover

to stroke your parchment

to inhale you slowly as I might a fuzzy peach

like a shaman

to heal myself the way you heal

To take my fear that crawls under you–

to take all the shadows we have together shed

and turn them into one translucent understanding


Fourteen times

they have cut you open

and sewn you back up again

Fourteen times

you have worn that crimson corsage at your delicate throat—

swallowed it all with quiet dignity

while I was off in that other country

leaking breath like ink in a God-damn sieve--

dragging my words like your flesh behind me


And, still the soul’s marrow

like my own bones’ thinning

moves through and beyond

the fading bruise of my existence


Often, I wonder

what is the mystery of your moving landscape


where you and your gypsy violins wander off to…

If you know who and where you are when you get there

And, after

you have been multiplied, divided, subdivided

split like an atom and reduced to the smallest nth

will you still re-member me?


I like to think

I am a singing miracle inside my Mother’s skin

That you, my skin,

(oh, city of spandex! oh, city of balloons!)

belong to a family of skin

whose invisible memory-quilt stretches all imagination

That your feet dance with mine

in Moscow and Vienna

That your poems dance with mine

in and through the streets of Paris

That your eyes turn like seeds that open into flowers

That they will continue to turn and to open

beyond this blistering disintegration.


I like to think

that at this very moment

you are kneeling silently

with your brothers and sisters--

shimmering in your horrific beauty,

in the heavy mist, in the rising ash,

beyond the cruel and callused glare cast

by the lacquered shades of human lamps.

That you are too vast, too many

for any one museum

with no one to fill your stacks of empty shoes

That you are as raindrops and teardrops

whose only desire is to find an opening in closure

That your particles dance and hum in the dark

with the unblemished day of the newborn

with the newly delivered moon

wrapped in the coils of all ages

That you are as dust and stardust…

Everyone and Everywhere



Oh, skin!

What else can I tell myself

when your so strong, so tender ribbon

is all but coming undone?

Right now you are the perfect gift

wrapped inside yourself

while I,

(forever in eclipse) (always the skeleton)

stand stripped and exposed as any holocaust–

an old abandoned house in weeds

whose intimate scenery hangs tattered and flapping–

my broken umbrella weeping softly

outside my door


Oh, skin! Oh, skin!

how do you hold it all in?



Antonia Alexandra Klimenko trained as an actress at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary Tambimutttu of Poetry London–publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas Henry Miller and Bob Dylan, to name a few. After his death, it was his friend, the late great Kathleen Raine, who took an interest in her writing and encouraged her to publish. Although her manuscript was orphaned upon ‘Tambi’s passing, her poems and correspondence are included in his Special Collections at Northwestern University. The former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion and devotee of Spoken Word has performed at various venues such as the renowned Purple Onion and The Intersection for the Arts–the oldest alternative art space in the City by the Bay. Her one-woman-show, Where the Blue Begins was presented in conjunction with Sonoma’s performing art series Women on the Edge.


Most recently she participated in Three Room Prsss’ presentation of Dada a la Carte at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art and Culture and performed in Entrée Dada at the Au Chat Noir. Klimenko’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in CounterPunch, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, Iodine Poetry Journal, Howl: San Francisco Journal, The Seventh Quarry, Poetry News, The Bastille, Paris Lit Up, Strangers in Paris–New Writing Inspired by the City of Light, The Last Clean Dirty Shirt Anthology, Voyeur, The Indian River Review, The Best of Mad Swirl, Quail Bell, Southeast Review, The Criterion International Literary Journal, Occupy Wall Street Anthology (in which she is distinguished as an American Poet) and Maintenant: Journal of Contemporary Dada Poetry and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.


She lives in Paris.