6: judy halebsky

judy halebsky

Judy Halebsky makes her home in Northern California. Currently, she’s in Tokyo studying noh theatre and butoh dance. Her poems have been published in Runes, Ping Pong, and Five Fingers Review. Her chapbook, Japanese for Daydreamers was published last spring.




Learning to Dance
(Kazuo Ohno Studio, April 2008)

The Italian had on silver high heels
her hair tied in sea shells

while Sensei talked she whispered me the important parts

I am an old man carrying a dozen apples

I am walking through the train station struck by lightning

grass has light
milk has cream
these are things I need to remember:
foil wrap wings
birds with fragile beaks
the angle of the earth to the sun

these are the primary colors: plum, pine, bamboo
liquor, denim, daybreak

the Italian
(plum blossoms finally in April)
she says, I was like, beautiful
putting in what was missing
the high heels, the apples
I was like to mean the whole of me


Yellow + Red = Orange

Jessie’s painting all the taxi cabs in New York
in red sable and camel hair
in a Brooklyn apartment
in tulip bulbs, bus tickets, coffee cups

雨 + 会 = 雲
rain + meeting = clouds

Dr. Hunter’s trying to write what hasn’t been said yet
in fresh cut lumber, from the ground up
annotated, explicated, marking the unmarked

wordless birch branches, red bricks, blades of grass
blurred stacks of news print
butternut, walnut, ebony

雲路 cloud path:
the way of birds

雲水 clouds and water:
a journey

雲会 clouds meeting:
a landscape


Yellow Wood

I have left the bed unmade
calls unanswered
my bookcase is out on the sidewalk
my wax kite flying without a string

somewhere in this body is a compass
that must realign
to metal detectors, to flight patterns, to unfurnished rooms

this is my library card
this is my plane ticket

ippai means one cup
ippai means I’ve had enough

standing on a street corner in Peterborough
the snow is coming down in April
there are two roads from here

a strong cup:
with all my might

dividing a cup and drinking:
to leave



Mom thinks I should marry Jacob
not because he is brave or strong
he is neither
but because he has an even keel

all husbands are boring she says

he’s making us a house in cardboard
plastic bag for rain
open top for sun

we’re on that ride at the fair
with the blue tea cups
crossed arms spinning
pulling in flying out

in Japanese there’s a word that means both brave and reckless

he’s growing mustard greens in the garden
he’s tying dandy lions into a crown

aren’t I supposed to sleep
layers and layers deep beside him
aren’t I supposed to feel
a piece of me carried away in jar
when he goes

I can’t keep you tied to my apron string forever she says




on the nightstand…


am loving..

  • Persimmons
  • Yellow fall leaves
  • Red fall leaves
  • Tea
  • Electric blanket
  • Puppets
  • Umbrellas


what inspires you about the winter?

I love the long evenings. I grew up on the east coast of Canada. There were days in winter when it was dark when school started and the sun was setting when school ended. The day wraps up early and there’s all this quiet, shadowed time.


what are three constants in your day?

  1. Foraging for food
  2. Caffeine
  3. Looking for treasures in scraps to paper

13 thoughts on “6: judy halebsky

  1. Such a treat to read some new poems from Judy. And I feel honored to know who all the players are… like I am in the know! What a lovely website, and Sheri, I loved your photo to accompany Judy’s poems.

  2. Judy, beautiful poems. I am especially loving rain + meeting = clouds; clouds + meeting = landscape, and of course, this:

    “aren’t I supposed to sleep
    layers and layers deep beside him
    aren’t I supposed to feel
    a piece of me carried away in jar
    when he goes”

    I know so exactly what you mean here…perfectly captured in words what cannot be captured in words. Only you, Judy!

    Hope you are well.

  3. Beautiful images, dancing and mingling yet occasionally standing still to contemplate in your subtle words. I love your poems, Judy! I can see Ohno sensei raising his palms high in the air.

  4. Pingback: I’m dreaming of a wide Christmas « Poet with a Day Job

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