Drenched / Cynthia Gallaher


poems by

Cynthia Gallaher

ISBN: 978-1-59948-705-2, 40 pages, $12

Release Date:  September 5, 2018


Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet and playwright, is author of three poetry collections and two other chapbooks. Most recently, she made a 10-city book tour with her nonfiction guide, reference & memoir Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet, which won a National Indie Excellence Award. The Chicago Public Library lists her among its “Top Ten Requested Chicago Poets.” A former advertising copywriter by trade, in the last few years she’s turned her attention to teaching yoga and applying the healing art of aromatherapy.

From an ekphrasis on Niagara Falls to the history of beer and the unconscious flushing of a toilet and the water’s journey, these poems by Chicago poet, Cynthia Gallaher, drench our senses. Lovers of quiet moments that may be stolen from “wabi-sabi urban” life will enjoy this engaging collection on water and liquids. ~ Ana Castillo, Ph.D., poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar


Cynthia Gallaher’s Drenched lyrically explores all things liquid, from assorted libations to lap pools, and from fine art to sewers. You’ll want to soak up the verses and steep in the images from this engaging and authentic Chicago voice. ~ Jennifer Dotson, founder of HighlandParkPoetry.org and author of Clever Gretel


In many ways Cynthia Gallaher’s Drenched is deceptively named. In every description of a waterfall, swimming pool, glass of wine, or teaspoon disappearing into boiling water, there is a human presence. This is the real subject of these poems. These poems explore the human interventions, tradeoffs, power dynamics, and expressions of joy associated with the liquids that enter and exit our lives. Drenched is a lyrical, imaginative, deeply felt, and thoroughly enjoyable collection of poems. ~Mike Puican, winner of Tia Chucha’s Chapbook Contest for 30 Seconds, Board President of Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex.


Cynthia Gallaher’s Drenched is immersed in life-affirming imagery. We all need water to live, and Gallaher reminds us that we also need poetry to nurture our passion for it. ~Raúl Niño, author of Breathing Light and A Book of Mornings


These poems are reminiscent of Neruda’s Odes with Gallaher’s close focus on liquids as diverse as chamomile, coffee, sauna sweat, beer, and effluent flushed down toilets into Chicago’s sewers. She’s serious, but with a light touch. Champagne is discussed as something drunk at an outdoor card table on folding chairs, and it’s suggested that sometimes a couple of pints of Guinness might be all you need for Friday night dinner. —Charlie Rossiter, poet/host of the podcast series, Poetry Spoken Here.

Green Tea’s Ceremony Within


it’s the Asian paradox,
modern, stressed Japanese
seeking refuge in old ways.

some gather in boardrooms
and sip, what millennia ago
was brewed from a handful of leaves

blown by accident
into the emperor’s
hot water kettle.

the way of tea has had its way,
amidst Coca-Cola signs, raging trucks
and the clatter of multi-million

heels hitting concrete instead
of stockinged feet shuffling
inside a garden-side teahouse.

a tea ceremony of the heart takes a deep bow
through each cup imbibed in downtown Tokyo,
to express principles of

harmony, respect, purity, tranquility,
as well as nourish with phytonutrients,
protect with antioxidants, oxidize fat.

another late night under bright lights,
but the tongue tastes tea on hillside forest
on a rainy afternoon, its own chartreuse umbrella.

later, in the mad crush of subway passengers,
the tea drinker’s still virtually seated on a tatami,
to admire a seasonal scroll, listen to the fire,

smell incense mixed with aromas
of freshly whisked matcha, live life
in spite of one’s wabi-sabi urban self.





with every breath in,
blood brightens from oxygen,
the heart chimes, arteries loop
liquid life into the overworked liver,
beleaguered brain, strained muscles,

a lavish sup of nourishment and drive
all the way into tight squeeze capillaries,
a spelunker’s journey without a headlamp,
to disappear into this invisible network
of billions of black holes,

a leap of faith into the upside down,
yin side of yang circulation
where blood darkens to a spent wine
as if it spilled out of the mouth of a drunk
who’s fallen onto bruised knees

limping sometimes on the return trip,
wasted, venous, hungry and thirsty,
dropping off some pieces of dirty laundry
in the kidneys, letting the heart
lift the rest of its weary load of CO2

to new redemption, exhalation,
atonement, clothed again
in brilliant scarlet raiment,
a life and death mini-drama
played out once every minute,

pushed to the edge
where an exchange takes place,
a miracle happens,
like water into wine,
and wine into blood.



Crossing Portages


eagles soar over namesake marsh only once yearly,
in the state tagged “a great place to sleep!”
to those on cross-country road trips.

eagle eyes connect dots
that draw Asian carp fingerlings between raindrops,
across flooded portages that meander toward Erie.

before long, their massive filets could back-flip over Niagara,
like divers who catapult from Acapulco cliffs
with hidden, compact strength.

here in lolling headwaters, it’s awfully quiet in Lime City,
where the old canal carved next to the new
waits smothered under buildings and concrete roadways.

when I put my ear to the ground
close to the banks of the Little River,
I’m not sure if I hear

the splash of thousands of fins on approach,
or these rivers, angry, twice invaded,
holding rally as New Madrid threatens

to split what George Washington sought
right down the middle.

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