Studio Firenze

Single One Way Trip—North Ferry Co.—Amount $4.50

The ticket was in my poetry book. It could have been from a trip to Cape Cod. Or maybe that trip to Shelter Island where I wanted to stay with you forever, isolated by the sea and the storm-beaten pines.

My love was enough but you were ill at ease and I did not interpret what your tension meant. I could not see what would come. 

The ticket was yellowed and creased. Time had faded the words and worn the edges. The North Ferry—now so unfamiliar a name.  

Emily Florence 


Fourteen Black Paintings

Fourteen deep purple and velvety black Mark Rothko paintings hang within an octagonal-shaped chapel in Houston, Texas. The Rothkos were made for an interfaith sanctuary dedicated to spirituality and human rights. In her vision, Dominique de Menil who conceived the chapel said, The Rothko Chapel is oriented toward the sacred yet it imposes no traditional environment. It offers a place where common orientation could be found—an orientation towards God, named or unnamed, an orientation towards the highest aspirations of Man and the most intimate calls of the conscience. Peter Gabriel was so moved after visiting the chapel, he wrote the song Fourteen Black Paintings. It is my wish to visit this sacred spot and meditate with the profundity of the work.


To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race we chaired you through the market-place; man and boy stood cheering by, and home we brought you shoulder-high. 

Today, the road all runners come, shoulder-high we bring you home, and set at your threshold down, townsmen of a stiller town. 

Smart lad, to slip betimes away from fields where glory does not stay and early though the laurel grows it withers quicker than a rose. 

Now you will not swell the rout of lads that wore their honors out, runners whom renown outran and the name died before the man. 

So set, before its echoes fade, the fleet foot on the sill of shade, and hold the low lintel up the still-defended challenge-cup. 

And round that early-laureled head will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, and find unwithered on its curls the garland briefer than a girl’s. 

A.E. Housman 


The Masai have reported to the district commissioner that many times at sunrise and sunset, they have seen lions on Finch Hatton’s grave. A lion and a lioness have gone there and stood or lain on the grave for a long time. ...The ground around the grave was leveled out to a sort of terrace. I suppose that the level place makes a good site for the lions. From there they have a view over the plain and the cattle and game. Denys would like that.

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) from Out of Africa

Atom Bombs


The red hills of Salina were reflected in her hair. Nearby, under government’s eye, a cold ugliness grew. 

It was covertly released into the air and entered the bodies of all who lived there. 

When forty years had passed, her black hair now white, she was awarded a sum to compensate for her life.

Emily Florence



The Cowboy

Ruddy from Montana winds he straddles his painted pony and braces against the cold.

He cups his hand to light a cigarette, inhales and clenches his chiseled jaw.

I now search the leathered folds of my father’s face for that young cowboy

on a drive to Pocatello, his agate eyes gazing, big sky and life before him.

Emily Florence



Final Words

When I told him we were going to let him go, his eyes flew open, not an objection, but his only way to express the fear.

His tattered body was immobile except for his eyes, eyes that come to me now in the ragged edges of sleep. 

My words wrapped him in a shawl, a gentle rain of things I have said so often and things I could not say before. 

And in the end as I stroked his forehead, words failed me. The profundity of death has no expression. It was silent but that was enough. 

Emily Florence




The stone, tossed by a storm down the canyon’s red walls, comes to rest in a thicket of mint. Jack rabbits and wolves tense at the lonely echoes.

 The warm waxing moon fills the crevices of the canyon and washes the facets of the stone to a brilliance. 

I am the canyon. You are the stone.

Emily Florence  



The Woman’s Room

In Saudi’s Arabia, women are punished for infidelity by being locked in a room constructed in her own home, soundproofed, a hole in the center for waste and a slot in the door for food to be passed through. She remains there until death, never to hear the sound of another human voice. Many go mad and all die within a short span of time. Her fate is decided by her father or her husband. Not all men choose this punishment. It is called the Woman’s Room. 

 I will be your silent subjugate, my father, your dominion I assume. Give me another way to compensate and save me from the woman’s room. 

My lover gave me a silvered mirror, the reflection showing a different fate. Your legacy to me is to corner and trap in this suspended state.  

From my cocoon I am metamorphic on wings of maroon and deepest teal. In flight I transcend the Arabic, my sisters caught in the spokes of a wheel. 

 I will scream until the truth is unveiled, until hooded eyes have been impaled. 

Emily Florence  



On Emptiness

When emptiness is possible, everything is possible. Were emptiness impossible, nothing would be possible. Nagajuna

As I meditated late one night, I felt plates of armor like an armadillo’s begin to fall away. As they fell, I became more and more free, lighter, brighter. What were the plates made of? What was I shedding? The concept of emptiness is integral to the practice of Buddhism. This concept has been known intellectually to me for some time but I have struggled to attain the pure knowledge which comes through the direct experience of meditation. Thich Nhat Hahn speaks of a flower which is emptiness. The flower is color, form, petals, stem, the sunshine, earth, nutrients and water which allow it to exist. The flower is full of the cosmos and empty of separateness, not existing without many other elements. Every experience is empty of self. Nothing exists without many other elements. Emptiness is a lack of self.

Both formerly and now, I teach only suffering and the cessation of suffering. This was the Buddha’s sole interest. The truth of impermanence is a cornerstone of Buddha’s teaching. We suffer because we hold onto things that are ever changing, ever disappearing, ever evolving. Craving leads to clinging to those things which leads to suffering. This craving is known as attachment. The end of desire, the end of grasping and clinging is the end of the sense of lack. Through study, reflection and meditation and by abiding in the present moment throughout each minute of each day, the plates of armor surely fall away. I return to my original empty nature and find pure awareness. I am the silence. I am the emptiness.