Toti O’Brien
Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), and In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021).


Primo, Restare In Vita

First . . . No, don’t just stay alive.
Remain within life. It’s a zone, funny-shaped
like a country or a region drawn on a map.

That incongruous, yes, ragged around the edges
bent, askew, invariably sprouting in a corner
an extrusion, a pocket, a pouch.

If you like, you shall hide, niche
or simply sit in that pocket
storage room, tiny collateral chamber.

Breathing is advisable, not required.
Let your lungs take care of it on the sly
with minimal effort.

Ask your heart to proceed with no break
no vacation, but in the lowest gear
and on cruise.

You can close your eyes if you wish
but abstain from dreaming.
Seriously. Listen well.

You shall avoid dreaming
as well as the alternation of sleep and wake
all dramatic changes of status.

Just. Remain. In. Life.
Such is the first commandment.
There’s no second.




 2022 Toti O’Brien
Toti O’Brien was a Featured Poet at the January 2022 Second Sunday Poetry Series