Cover by Omer Kursat,
original artwork by Elsha Bohnert

Don't Trip Over the Garden Hose
& Other Blood Sacrifices
Elsha Bohnert

ISBN 978-0983504122, March 25, 2013
Softcover, 96 pages, 6 x 9 in. 

Part memoir, part dream, each poem plays with the craziness and rare beauty of being alive.

It’s a poke in the ribs, “a needle aimed correctly,” “a blood sacrifice.”

Most of all, it’s about digging in dirt with bare hands, cussing and crying, because you know you’ve buried your heart here somewhere. 

Sublime Choreography of the Fleeting Moment: From a world at war to a sunny afternoon in Waikiki, Bohnert examines the sublime choreography of the fleeting moment, braving the darkest of passages to illuminate the binding ties between parent and child, survivor, lover and stranger. Long-lost treasure and newfound loss rub shoulders in a charged Chagall-esque atmosphere of dirt, blood, bone, and the occasional flying rooftop. Bohnert's poems harvest time with a mix of raw vulnerability and gamine curiosity.

— Maja Clark

Elsha, master of the miraculous, writes of a life that would make most of us quiver with terror of war, of rape, or abandonment, of pain and terrible dangers flying around her like black angels across the page. 

Alice Anne Parker, author of Understand Your Dreams, The Last of the Dream People, Bare Breasts and Cannonballs

The Impulse


If I had lived
in that time of acute anxiety
in a country fractured
seething for blood

If I had been a girl sixteen
unaware that her best friend –
who just got a brand new bike
and played boogie-woogie instead of scales –
would flee for her life
after a quick lunch of curry
her parents acting like
nothing special
just going for a short drive

If I had been the girl
threatened by soldiers
on her way to school
declared enemy of the state
banished to a land of winters
row houses
potatoes not rice

If I had been that girl I would
have stopped and said goodbye
to geckos
liquid hearts of palm sugar
guardian banyan tree
fluted sighs of night monkeys
clutching watery dreams
I would cross and re-cross
the equator for nights to come
sliver of a moon
in a dislocated sky


I no do dis for fun
she says
eyebrows popping like jumping fish
one higher than the other

da tourists dey no care
she points at her two dusty bags
used and reused
bulging with plastic bottles
and soda cans
retrieved from the trash bins
along kalakaua avenue
on her daily walk
from the ala wai to her garden plot
at diamond head

one bus drivah he say
you no can ride my bus
coz you dirty

but I tell him
I clean
I doing dis for exercise

You will fly through these poems, these living frights you can’t resist.

— Carol Catanzariti, co-editor of Tales from the North Shore

The Wounding


I cry when he calls my name
come here he says right now
sit in my lap don’t cry
I will tell you a story
a true story

I know his story
I know it by heart
I know how it ends
the puppy dies
because it does not obey
it dies again and again

He holds me tight on his lap
he makes dying puppy sounds
don’t cry he warns
I can’t stop crying
I don’t want to die
he kisses me loves me
kisses me all over


into my room
he said

I will change you
into a woman

Grounded in specific historical times, events and places, Elsha’s poetry is bathed in mystery with a dash of danger, intrigue, lust and magic.

— Jeannette Paulson Hereniko, author and performer of the one-woman show, Wild Wisdom



One moment an earthquake
the next a tsunami
your bunker of knowledge breaks apart
twisted rebar in chunks of concrete
sweep past you
taking along your baby photos
designer shoes

Throw your wallet after it
your brand new iPhone
hike up the mountain naked and young
someone asks for your arm?
give it
your leg? give it
you’re a rose dropping your petals
with no thought

Next day the dogs of reality come at you
you rush out without breakfast
check yesterday’s road kill of emails
more this
less that
another war threatens
the rose has died
what’s so important?

The earth will shake loose again
fires lurk in the wires inside your walls
and somewhere a cliff is waiting for you
to step off from as you follow
the fragrance of another fresh rose


If you want to be invisible
cover your skin with invisible eyes
If you want to fly

ask the seven sisters for milky way wings
When they wear out
ask the wind for a ride

Don’t iron your clothes
and don’t lose your accent
Remember who you are

The one who irks you most
is the one poking your blind spot
the one you asked for and need

If you want to rule the world
Forget who you are

An Artist's View of Life's Surprises: Her breathtaking imagery surprises again and again. 

Norma W. Gorst, author of At the Edge of Speech

Following are a few examples of Elsha's paintings. They do not appear in the book.

Dilamenare © Elsha Bohnert
The Called © Elsha Bohnert
Kali Yuga © Elsha Bohnert
© Elsha Bohnert

Elsha Bohnert's poems will not keep you in your comfort zone. They contain contradictions, twists and turns; they create pain on the page, evenperhaps especiallythe pain of human coldness, as in her poem "Safekeeping," for example. But her poems maintain a clarity like glass, while some cut and draw blood, as does broken glass. 

Patrice M. Wilson, PhD