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Alice's magic potion, morphine lip-gloss, & the loneliness of forests

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Recent posts

Bound by an Infinity Scarf

I just found a beautiful old love letter from my husband Sean that expresses how I feel each time he visits me here in Florence and goes back to England again:

"Each time you visit me all of my world tips a touch, tips to your touch, and I need to revise my charts and tap the compass, take my bearings, being swirled afresh... and my chart now appears a scrub of scribbles, rubbings out over revisions over projected paths, to the point where the paper wears thin, and soon I shall vanish completely, lost through the hole in the centre, falling off the edge of the world. And in the darkness I find you."

In just over a week I might be able to visit him in England for several weeks before moving into a new apartment in Florence. If the immigration guards let me in. The same ones who ushered me out under "threat of arrest and detention" after seizing my passport. 
The ironically named "Home Office" gave my daughter and me just two weeks to pack up our whole lives an…

Flying pelvises, saints immolated with verse & camera obscuras

The woman on the top of my book cover tumbles into sleep with a twist of the toy's ribbon and soon she's dreaming that there's a demon on her thigh.

When the paper coin spins, the woman becomes blurry and merges with an image of a little demon printed on the opposite side of the circle, so it appears the demon has perched on her leg.

The optical toys on the cover of my 2015 book of poems, The Trauma Scope, fool us into seeing the following: a demon lands on the woman's leg, a man's head gains a torso, and a bird appears in the cage.

The world cartwheels to us.

Images flip upside-down in our minds before righting themselves again so we can make sense of them and ourselves in relation to them.In this way our eyes are camera obscuras, performing optical gymnastics in milliseconds.

Rebecca Dunham'sThe Flight Cage, one of my favorite contemporary books of poetry, plays with similar issues. The gorgeous cover bears a thematic similarity to the woman-in-birdcage cove…

Laughter & Forgetting

I'm pleased to announce that three poems and a lyrical essay of mine are forthcoming from some mighty fine print journals this spring! The poems "Mappa Mundi" and "The Weight of Prayer" have been accepted by the excellent Roanoke Review, which was co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Taylor, and one of my most controversial essays - Laughter & Forgetting - is forthcoming from Cutbank, a truly brave journal that has published some of my favorites such as Wendell Barry and Seamus Heaney. 

In response to the acceptance letter, I wrote, "Thank god for brave journals like you!" (paraphrasing from memory) and Kate, the editor replied, "Thank god for brave writers like you!" I'm shocked and thankful that my extremely controversial essay found a home with incredible editors like Kate Barrett and Rebecca Dunham. I'm extra grateful because Laughter & Forgetting weighs in at a hefty 14 pages - that's the most elbow room I've…

Rock paper scissors?

I'm very proud to dispel the myth of the rock, paper, scissors game. With my paper-cutting I go through about five to ten blades a day - all worn down and useless as butter knives through the sheer force of paper.

So next time I play that game and someone throws two fingers in my face, threatening to cut my hand in two, I'm gonna cut a meticulous design in my paper hand to blunt their glory.

Come to think of it, I once wrote a short story
entitled "Rock, Paper, Scissors" - I should go fiddle with it and use my editing blade to make it publishable.

I started taking paper cutting much more to heart last month as a form of therapy after saying goodbye to my girls in the US and flying back to spend more time alone in Florence, Italy. Well, not alone, but without my husband or my girls.

I created little name wreaths and medallions for my little 2nd cousins but then I enjoyed it so much, and people started asking for personalized paper art, so I might just resuscitate my …

My love in and out of a painting

While I've mostly been spending my time these past few months getting my editing business off the ground and putting in long hours on magazine articles and manuscripts, etc, I've found a little time to create mixed media paintings, which I love doing so much. The serendipity and messiness always bring surprises. You can see my love in fetal position wrapped in scraps of old lingerie at the bottom of the piece (spellcheck says fetal should be "foetal." I agree it's visually much more evocative of the fetal position; more ovoid with the O and the half-O of the e.)

in search of lost time

I prefer not to be governed by anything that outpaces my pulse. The ticking above my wrist would confuse my blood - which is my true heart? 

My life is slow and gentle - somnolent. There is time to look, and feel, and dream. It's not a luxury, it's a choice. We choose our taskmasters. We choose what we count, and what counts.

Minutes? Money? 

We count our breaths like misers.

I haven't worn a watch since I was eighteen. I've been blissfully unaware of minutes ever since, which can be maddening or charming to other people, depending. My life has its own cycles, beginning with the journey of the sun. 

Sundials are more human-paced; they cast lazy shadows and measure days by half hours. Shadows slide off the sides of buildings and onto the grass, telling us it's time for repose. 

In a watchmaker's window display on via Romana, near Boboli Garden, I once saw a still life of a disassembled watch that appeared to be floating - invisible threads holding each minuscule compo…