Looking for Lenore

For Lenore Kandel, Beat Generation feminist poet 


The red rue is calling! 

It’s Kupala Midsummer Night! 

The twilight sky teems 

with fuchsia flames. 

I weave 

my hair in long braids, 

ready my wreath 

to dance upon the river. 

O, High Priestess of Love! 

Honey once flowed 

from your lips. 

Lavender meadows blossomed 

beneath your feet. 

Your meteor of light 

extinguished mournfully. 

It’s you I’ve been seeking! 


I look for you 

in the sugar maples 

of Pennsylvania – 

Baba’s baykas 

a one-room schoolhouse 

your cradle 

words burning 


already putting pen 

to paper 

I look for you 

on the park 

benches of Union Square 

the New School 

what a snooze 

full ride 

does not matter 

the road calls to you 

must feed 

the triplet chapbooks 

you just birthed 4 

I look for you 

in the East-West House of Haight-Ashbury 

threading bead curtains 

shaking Aphrodite hips 

Kerouac perplexed 

you read 

the Lankavatara Sutras 

for breakfast 

wearing only purple 


I look for you 

ascending City Lights 

The Love Book 

a new scripture 

the Apostle of the Sacred Fuck 

never compromising 



women as desirous creatures 

I look for you 

inciting Reagan’s wrath 

at the San Francisco courthouse 


the right to write 


the right to love 


tangerine turtleneck sweater 

your armor 

decrying war 



the real obscenities 

I look for you 

in the polo fields 

of Golden Gate Park 

Ginsberg, Snyder, McClure, Ferlinghetti 

thundering at the Human Be-In 

the only woman poet on stage was you 

serenading crowd 

20,000 strong 

your 35th birthday present 5 

I look for you 

driving a pick-up truck 


deliveries of sustenance 

member of the Diggers 

embracing the radical 


no body should go hungry 

I look for you 

in the motorcycle crash 

shattering your spine 

ceaseless pain 


in solitude 

to writing 

your faithful friend 


overtaking your lungs 

spirit still buoyant 

until the last breath 


Lenore, my Capricorn twin – 

you bore 

no children. 

I claim you 

as my mother. 

St. John’s fire 

burns bright. 

Let’s bathe 

in song tonight! 


Vera Sirota is the proud granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants. Vera serves as a mentor for Girls Write Now, a creative writing organization for high school girls and gender-expansive youth in NYC. Vera’s poems have been featured in the Poetry Distillery, Stories by Girls Write Now, Dark Onus Lit, Ukrainian American Poets Respond, Music of Hope: a benefit concert in support of Ukraine, and the “SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE” exhibition. Vera is a 2022 Martha Award Finalist for the David Wade Hogue Scholarship. She is a co-founder of the West of Willow poetry and music collective in Hoboken, New Jersey. She previously served as a public school teacher in Elmhurst, Queens.

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