Three Poems – by Olivia Hajioff

File:Lake Rotoroa (Tasman), Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand.jpg



 I learned an ancient word today.

Such a beautiful, sad word:



There are those who, in their quest for reality,

See only the wound, but not the healing skin beneath.

They immerse in the infinite misery that besets us

and cannot open ears or eyes to the speckled joys that also share our world.


The seek-sorrow frowns at delights

and bids you furrow also.

I know those who are so.

Perhaps you do, too.


But may we not be beckoned

by the small, clear, Autumn sky

and the tide of leaves rushing towards us

and the mourning dove’s strange, creaky-winged flight?



Are such glories to be ignored

so that we may not distract from suffering?

Perhaps there is room enough for both

in our unbounded consciousness


For, in truth, the sorrows need no seeking

and neither do the joys.




An Undiluted Joy                  


What would it be like, do you think,

to experience the world as it truly is?

Not constrained by our ruminative fears

nor sliced through with intruded memories

or the droop of sentiment.


These fictions can fade

in an instant.


At times, the unembellished will reveal itself:

a sudden vista, causing us to gasp.

A sharp bird call, startling through the silence.


These bolts halt us; free us,

if only for a second.


We cannot lengthen those moments

just as we cannot extend the next sound we hear.

But we can open ourselves to their invitation

and allow ourselves the undiluted joy

when it comes.






How good it would be

to part with those taut thoughts

of deeds mistaken and words unsaid.

Of the ungenerosity of long-held beliefs

that stiffen our muscles and lock our bones,

that shutter our lips and brittle our brows.

A nightmare in shining armour.


But what we have is not an exoskeleton.

Rather, a surface of undulations

and textures born of yield and caress.


Let us be deciduous.

Let us release what does not serve us

and make space for new growth.



Olivia Hajioff, a Fulbright scholar, has published poetry in The Road Not Taken, The Lyric, Jersey Devil Press, Ginosko Literary Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Light, Penumbra, philosopher William B. Irvine’s Stoic website, and the Front Porch Review, among others. She is the 2020 Grand Choice Winner of the Laura Riding Jackson Poetry Competition.  Olivia was also guest poet at the Hylton Center for Performing Arts at George Mason University.  At age nine, her short story was presented as a children’s ballet on the British television show: ‘Free Time’. Professionally, Olivia is a concert violinist and member of the Marcolivia Duo.


Image: Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons,_Nelson_Lakes_National_Park,_New_Zealand.jpg

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