About Theresa C. Vara's Profligate with Love, Patricia Klindienst has commented, “Watchful and passionate, these poems remind us that a poet may be born anywhere. A child who wakes to the power of her own senses in a Bronx walk-up and does not turn from what she sees and hears becomes our guide, registering scenes of betrayal and defeat and then of sweet and profligate love. We trust this voice as a life unfolds through this sequence of poems, telling us the stories we always need to hear—how the human heart survives.”

Theresa C. Vara grew up in the Bronx and attended Manhattan College. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, receiving the college’s awards in English and French, and went on to graduate from New York Law School in 1980. She received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Humanities from Wesleyan University in 2002, and is currently completing her dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate through the University of Wales, Swansea. She has taught English and French at a number of schools, including Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, Connecticut, from which she twice received the Innovative Teaching Award. At present she teaches English at University High School in Hartford and considers herself blessed to spend so much of her time discussing literature and poetry with teenagers. Her poetry has been published by New Song Press and anthologized by the Houghton Mifflin Company. In conjunction with Mary Donnarumma Sharnick, she is the founding editor of The Litchfield Review. She lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.

In May, 2008, Profligate with Love was voted Best Creative Writing of the Year by the Connecticut Press Club.

Click here to read some sample poems.


ISBN: 978-0-9770633-6-9
Length: 64 pages
Binding: 5.5" x 8.5" trade paperback




come back
from that other world
and tell me why
you would load seven kids
into your battered green truck
and sit long, sweating in stopped traffic
on a rain forest day in New York City
for a soccer game, your Italia vs. Argentina.

We bounced loose
among your plumbing tools,
pipes, torches, snakes
greasy with stench,
going somewhere

Once there
you herded us through dense forests of hot bodies,
explaining the game hoarsely all the while
in your half comprehensible English.
You bought
each of us,
all seven,
small boxes cushioning
eight tiny marzipan fruits,
perfect jewels
of berries and pears,
who lost your telephone and electricity
as regularly as others paid their bills.

My father said
you were a dumb bastard
to waste those tickets on kids.
Come back, Uncle Randy,
so I can hear you laugh
when I tell you
I remember.


No engraved silver, no proud porcelain,
no creamy damask or lacy linen
did my grandmother bear with her
leaving Torre Anunziata.
Her Italian treasure
she brought alone:
four small dark children in thin, hand-made clothes,
a stack of letters
from Giovanni in America,
locks of hair from the babies
she buried in the shadow of Vesuvius.
She, as always,
was blackened by loss,
fingering her rosary of stolen and beloved souls.

Years later, after her wake,
grown children would break up her house
to find she had nothing to leave,
having already given it all away.
She left nothing
but the salt of her sweat
in her tomato patch in New York City;
her stories of a lost country of beauty and hunger;
her stitches in the baby clothes of grandchildren,
embroidered names English and
strange to her,
like the mysterious tracks
of some small
new to America.


Here are the photographs of the clothes
cut off the corpses.
Though the sweat, the dirt,
the blood
obscure much,
you may recognize a sock you mended,
a favorite shirt,
trousers with a stubborn stain
you may have labored over.

No jewelry was found.
A wedding ring meant
a finger hacked off.

The bodies are numbered
the same as the things
found on them.
If you find an item
of a husband,
write down the number.

You may claim
now bagged in the freezer
and the clothing
which you may want
to salvage
or touch.

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