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Published and shared posthumously with permission

by Catherine L Schweig

Janavi Held (1965-2018) was an artist, dancer, photographer, yogini and poet originally

from Brooklyn. The daughter of publishers and the niece of Joseph Heller—author of the bestselling classic, Catch-22—Janavi was raised to love books, despite having struggled with dyslexia. Janavi started writing her own poetry and wandering around with her father’s camera as a child. She was a very gentle, yet adventurous spirit. In 1984, at the age of nineteen—while a student at NaropaUniversity—Janavi began practicing Bhakti Yoga. She graduated with honors from Goddard College (2005-2009) where she studied poetry, photography, and media studies. Bedridden in the last years of her life, Janavi processed the intense physical pain that characterized her illness through spontaneously immersing herself in artistic and spiritual growth. During this “renaissance of her soul” she authored Letters to My Oldest Friend: A Book of Poetry and Photography (Krishna West Inc., 2017) and contributed poems to two poetry anthologies, Bhakti Blossoms: A Collection of Contemporary Vaishnavi Poetry (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2017), and Goddess: When She Rules—Expressions by Contemporary Women (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2018). Two of Janavi’s poems were also shortlisted for the prestigious Hamilton House International Poetry Prize awarded by the University Centre Grimsby, and published in their anthology Eternal (Hammond House, 2017). Janavi passed away at the age of 53, on December 8, 2018. She left behind an eclectic collection of work spanning across various mediums of expression, including artistic photography, cinematography, essays, short stories, digital art, and especially, poetry. Janavi’s voluminous literary oeuvre consists of over four thousand poems—some of them appearing in her posthumous poetry collection: Whispers From Her Deathbed (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2022) You may read more of Janavi’s poems and view her artwork, including her digital collages, on




I saw a plum tree dressed in full paisley blossoms,

and although the wind touched my cheeks

with cool fingers,

I felt the sun high


breaking through the billowing, unattached air.

It is time to stop peeling open the various wounds

of long-ago yesterdays:

let that spring-like evolution

bring young skin to cover those blistering memories,

let a well-earned amnesia transform dried memories

into food for tomorrow’s nutrition.

Perhaps it is time to sleep,

even when old nightmares threaten

the sanctity of rest,

even when I cannot walk forward

properly just yet,

even when the fog of this cold spring

still shrouds the horizon

and makes invisible the painted sky.



Discarded longings

penetrate the silence

like lightening

reminding me of

yesterday’s earthquakes

and unwanted passions

which tear the roots

out of my silence

the dregs of dismantled

intentions beg for time

and I am here

just here thickening

in the shadow

of yesterday’s dreams.



I am alone now

Listening to answers

To the questions

I’ve posed

To my intuition, my very own

Miniature version of God

I don’t always want

To do what I’m told

But the sun keeps

Drawing up over

The eastern horizon

And I keep breathing,

So, faith still settles

Into my renegade bones.

Even though I want to run

You say,

“Running is for later

when you’ve learned how to walk.”




with quiet ears

so life

does not


pass you by.

A breath of story

blows over my past.

The indoor chimes

echo restless

in my windy mind.

Then, dawn comes;

I sit waiting

for the perfect image

to grow in my veins.

I see,

I am lighter today,

quieter today,

listening to the sounds of creation.

Perfect is not a song I know.

Still, I sit listening.



The voice of friendship

speaks my soul

back to life

when I have spent

a night in lamentation.

And the sounds of the cresting sun

singing the moon and stars to rest

with her brilliant orange choirs.

And the river

restless, running,

shocking cold to tree roots

who rest and reach to her.

And those trees

velvet, golden, shape-shifting

aspens dancing

partnering with the wind,

their autumn song

prying my eyes and ears

away from sorrow.

They all chant and sing

to my broken open chest,

and in their music,

I neglect all the pain

which has chased me for years.

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