Two Poems by Laurie Soriano

Beautiful birds in the rain. (Photo: OneHDwallPaper)

Laurie Soriano is unique, in my experience: a lawyer who writes poetry, the literary equivalent of a mythical unicorn. True, the best legal writing can be poetry; parts of the California Code meet that high bar, but practicing lawyers barely ever do.

“I have written poetry since I was a child, and I also am a lawyer,” Soriano says in trademark understated yet revealing style. “I find they play well together, especially in that my law practice relates to music. I am tuned-in to the sensibilities of a lot of my clients and I know how to use language efficiently.” And then some.

Soriano’s expressive writings are beautiful, and feel effortless. For those reasons, I find joining her on the emotional riffs that comprise poetry fun and enjoyable. I mean, I love Shakespeare as much as the next guy, but let’s face it, it’s work. Laurie’s poems feel contemporary, yet timeless. They are accessible and powerful (yes, now that I think about it, a lot like superlative pop tunes). They tell stories, alternating sharp, incisive jabs with shadowy  strokes. Her rhythm is good. Great poems, like great parties, have varying tempos and invite one to slide around from mood-to-mood.

Brilliance with a beat and Maybe that’s also related to her career specialization in the arts. Soriano is a partner at King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP. Some of the most interesting people I know are lawyers, and now they are poets too. Laurie is tall, with glossy blonde hair and a Connecticut pedigree. Her clients include Twenty One Pilots and Frank Ocean and her home, I gather, contains a menagerie, and lovely art. Another client is Carole King, with whom in her capacity as a contract attorney she has spent considerable time at something called “copyright termination,” the process of helping a songwriter regain rights from publishers and other business interests.

Laurie Soriano — poet, lawyer, literary letter-writer — at the opening of “Wild Biology,” featuring “A Poetry Pairing.” (Photo by Paula Parisi)

Q. Do you own or have you ever owned a pet bird? (frequent reference in your poems). Interesting symbol of freedom for an attorney whose specialty is helping artists take flight from their commercial cages!
A. Yes, I own a 16 year old Senegal parrot named Albert—he was a gift from the songwriter Diane Warren, who has her own Senegal—Buttwings.  Funny you were able to pick that up from the poems you’ve read!

Q. How much poetry do you put into your contract drafts?
A. None—but I have been told that my letters often are more poetic than the average lawyer’s.

The last time I saw Laurie was at the March 30 opening for her friend Margaret Lazzari’s exhibit, “Wild Biology: A Mid-Career Retrospective,” which included “Painting and Poetry Pairings: A Joint Project with Laurie Soriano.” She looked  elegant — in black and white and simple silver hoops — amidst all the colorful art. In fashion, as with art, the vibe is modern classic.

When I asked how long it took to write the poems on the wall, which were specific to the paintings, she said they were all written this year. Juggling her time between high-profile music industry contract work and all it takes to be an outstanding wife, daughter, mother — things of which empirical evidence reveals she’s quite good — I’m forced to believe that Laurie Soriano is either very organized or quite prolific (or both).

Here are two works from her very impressive debut collection, Catalina, which continues to be an adventure each time it is opened.



Leaves are whispering down, my people
shipping out in moving vans and caskets.
My fingers are listless against
the white sky as the rain begins, and
birds fly twirling and laughing
from wire to steely twig.

The earth has tipped, some I loved
fell off and some rolled elsewhere.
As the moving trucks trembled to go forward,
we kissed briefly, our bodies separate,
and leaned our heads back to keep
the tears from spilling.  I have learned
the stolid set of my face when unobserved
when I am gazing off beyond the distance.

The trees revel in the sky
stark but radiant, shaking
off the last of the rain
as a child cries off in the distance

and I go inside and up
the stairs to comfort him.
As he slackens with sleep,
my own murmurs melt me,
my warm fingers on his forehead,
and his unburdened breathing,
and leaves are sprouting.
                  — Laurie Soriano

Looking Back

If we leave the windows open,
we can hear the sound of the Pacific
crashing every night. In the summers,
we are serenaded by sea lions—
a song of lust and dominion
ringing out among the dim rocks.

We have come to a screeching halt
at the edge of the continent,
like cartoon characters clinging
to the edge of a cliff with bare feet.
We ache for shuttling further, for
the oblivion of the new.

A trail of tears leads back across
the land to the vigorous Atlantic,
a trail we need to follow to make
our peace at gravesites, to celebrate
the anguished earth, to piece back together
with tender hands all that we have broken.
                                       — Laurie Soriano


Green-Wood Cemetary

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Paula Parisi 2009)