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"Arts and Lies" and "Where trees can't grow" by Milena Filipps

White text on a green square in front of a nature scene of a close up tree leaf

"Arts and lies"

We trust ourselves to speak of art,

Yet find no words for shadows.

They touched a canvas once or twice,

Perhaps no words were born.

A shadow’s tale told by a brushstroke

May bring the strangest sorrows.

Someone could stare and laugh.

Perhaps that’s why we never dare

To choose a name for obscure tears.

Words, too, need to be beautiful.

Art is beloved,

A destination for our thoughts,

Lying outside, where we find them,

Just as we let them fade.

Art is work,

An elegy to events never prevented by our hand.

Thus, we pray to them,

Words becoming a frame.

A frame once built

Will keep us staring,

Inventing sparkling tragedies, universal maladies,

Abstract terms and static words.

Thus, art is work.

A work well done will serve

Those free to come and go.

As we turn away, we break

Things and hearts never noticed before.

A testimony of regret,

A veil of thoughts we catch,

Remembrance and oblivion

Meet there, somewhere –

Both resting on grey clouds

Of respects paid,

A canvas staring back.

A creature on its journey,

Yet imprisoned,

Almost a grave.

Thus, it waits,

The same,

All the same it cries,

Colours barely show themselves.

Tears never resemble rain,

Here, tears are layers of paint –

In the depths of brushstrokes

Shadows find all strangeness tied to glass.

A present untouched is a presence unseen,

Motionless seconds; eyes closed.

We admire every phantom

A word may describe as a soul.

Walking through art galleries,

Corridors of metaphors,

We’re travellers, spectators, passers-by,

Relying on the most convincing lie –


On the beauty of broken arts.


"Where trees can’t grow"

Living in a bright world,

Tears brought by clouds

From a nameless shore,

We learn and read

Inventing beauty

And find poems to be

Like grasshoppers.

Our flowers watered,

Windows open,

Grasshoppers see

A home in our garden.

So many of them,

Every flower knows one,

The petals reach

Toward the sky like verses.

In the evening, we hear

Thousand voices gather around a tree,

Dark branches as bridges

Lead to the stars, up in a freezing sky,

Galaxies dressed in a shawl of words.

We crochet it -

Hide in the fields among tall grass,

In our hands grasshoppers whisper,

Sunrise, sunrise.

Our town was once built of poems.

We think of tears as we think of water,

Our flowers know it and so

We think the world knows too.

We think the world will smile

At our garden’s flowers.

But the world will drop them,

Other things must be brought to the shore.

We will wonder why its smile is staged,

While our windows never let us

See a place

Where trees can’t grow.


Milena Filipps is a history student in Germany. She enjoys reading works by Marcel Proust, Jane Austen and Goethe as well as learning about art history and historical architecture. Her essays “Academic Reading” and “My Glasses” (2023) were published by Livina Press, while her poems appeared in Swim Press (2023), The Field Guide Poetry Magazine (2023) and RIC Journal (2021), among others. You can find her on Instagram (@milenafilipps)

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